A general definition describes Situational Awareness as "the perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, comprehension of their meaning and the projection of their status in the near future." (Endsley, 1995)
Limited operator exposure to a situation, inadequate training, poorly displayed system information and high workload, along with other factors, can individually, or in combination, adversely affect situational awareness. Operators can lose, or fail to obtain, situational awareness when exposed to situations in which cues are seemingly similar to, but actually different from, those associated with their mental image of the situations. The less cognitive effort operators expend in monitoring the system, the more likely they will fail to attend to critical situational cues.
During periods of high workload, operators will almost certainly face competing demands on their attention, and are often interrupted during their activities. When returning to their tasks, their ability to maintain situational awareness that they had acquired before the disruption will be reduced.
In summary, high workload, competing task demands and ambiguous cues can all contribute to an operator's loss of situational awareness, even with experienced and well-trained operators. Given the scale and complexity of modern generation, distribution and transmission systems and the avalanche of available data (especially during critical events), operators tend to be inundated with raw information as opposed to "knowledge" and "intelligence" about the underlying state of the power system.
We offer advanced and powerful Situational Awareness tools and work with you to design appropriate techniques while taking into account the criticality of the mission at hand and experiences of the operations staff, their training and competencies.
Endsley, D. M. (1995). Situational Awareness. Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situation_awareness