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I found this appealing and well-designed Error 404 page on fra.dot.gov, the official website of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration.

fed railroad admin error 404 page

Federal Railroad Administration Error 404 Not Found

It is part of a newly refurbished FRA website, which is very satisfactory from a UX point-of-view. The UI for querying current and historical rail transit related safety data, then creating reports was both fast and reliable.

Mobile device related risk in the workplace

While browsing the website, I also ran across Federal Railroad Administration Effort to End Workplace Electronic Device Distraction FRA 30-12 (16 Nov 2012), the FRA’s most recent press release. The timing was sensible:

In October 2008, FRA issued an Emergency Order to prohibit the use of electronic devices by railroad operating employees [while at work]. The Emergency Order was codified by FRA as a regulation, which includes all railroad employees, in September 2010. Railroad employees who improperly use electronic devices while on the job violate both federal regulations and railroad operating rules, while endangering themselves and possibly their coworkers, railroad passengers, and those who live and work along rail lines.

Apparently, even safety regulation with the best of intentions, backed by solid logic, has not been as effective as it should have been.

Rail companies are encouraged to adopt anti-distraction programs and all railroad employees asked to make the improper use of such devices while on the job socially unacceptable.

I am hopeful that the latest approach will be effective.

BYOD risk mitigation

The present business trend encourages use of personal mobile devices, be they tablet, smartphone or otherwise, in the work place. As a result of the physical operations safety-based need to rein in personal electronic device usage, it is possible that the Federal Railroad Administration will enjoy the secondary benefit of reduced “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) related security vulnerabilities as well. Only time will tell.

Operations Research!

Railroad data analysis is done after the fact. The Federal Railroad Administration values operations research sufficiently to employ a team of dedicated operations research analysts in a variety of ways. Among others, this includes analytical support for risk reduction programs and ad hoc analytics. It isn’t referred to as “business intelligence”, I might mention, but rather, is a part of operations. I found that gratifying.

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