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With increasing complexity and interconnectivity of the electric power grid, the scope and complexity of grid operations continues to grow. New paradigms are needed to guide research to improve operations by enhancing situation awareness of operators. Research on human factors/situation awareness is described within a taxonomy of tools and approaches that address different levels of cognitive processing. While user interface features and visualization approaches represent the predominant focus of human factors studies of situation awareness, this paper argues that a complementary level, sensemaking, deserves further consideration by designers of decision support systems for power grid operations. A sensemaking perspective on situation awareness may reveal new insights that complement ongoing human factors research, where the focus of the investigation of errors is to understand why the decision makers experienced the situation the way they did, or why what they saw made sense to them at the time.
Date of Conference: 20-24 July 2008