How IS Simplify Complexity

Shake n Bake
5 min readApr 11, 2021

Hi everyone and welcome back to the blog! It’s Klaudiusz back again and this week I decided to take a step back from the glitz and glamour of formula 1’s newest cutting edge technology and concentrate on how information systems help formula 1’s applied science trickle down into everyday use in our consumer cars. We take many driver aids and comforts for granted in modern cars so how exactly did we go from easily locking up our brakes and starting our cars with a choke half a century ago to having traction control and a completely sound insulated cabin today?

Well the answer lies in the development of information systems, how accessible these systems became to a wider specialist community and the functional design of these systems in order to let people read these datasets with ease. It is important to mention that to this day all automotive companies and firms hold their cards close to their chest and do not publish or reveal any technical information in order to stay ahead of their competitors. However the same information systems theory that they applied is also used in many other sectors. Therefore I will be combining the information systems concepts in published research papers from these other sectors with the factual knowledge of invention in the automotive sector in order to support my findings in this topic.

An interesting paper I found was Chen Hong et al’s paper detailing the method and process of data compiling and assessment. And even though the data collected in the paper mentioned above deals with public health information, this theory was applied to many different fields as we will see below. One of the main postulates in this research paper is the fact that there is a five stage structure in order to successfully collect, process and analyse information systems. Namely these steps include familiarisation with data, identification of a thematic framework, indexing and validation of the thematic framework, charting and finally mapping and interpretation. This is the exact foundation on which systems such as ABS or Airbags were made mandatory for every new vehicle in the 21st century.

In early 1990’s Adrian Newey (A modern day legend but relatively unknown at the time) unveiled the new Williams F1 team race car for the upcoming season which was ground breaking to say the least! This race car had traction control, anti-lock brakes and active suspension which all combined to give the Williams drivers a 2 second advantage a lap over the next fastest competitor. This might seem insignificant to us measuring our time in hours but in the F1 world where time is measured in one thousandths of a second this was light years ahead of the game. This is where stage 1 familiarisation with data, of our five stage information systems structure is introduced. F1 is the perfect base to begin and test any new automotive technology as it attracts some of the worlds best engineers and brightest minds, with Adrian Newey at the time no exception. Newey was an expert in this field and he managed to identify the concept of collecting the appropriate data such as wheel speed on each brake rotor and the proportional brake pedal input of the driver, in order to facilitate the working model of ABS (Anti-Lock Brakes) for example.

In 1993 during the first implementation and testing of ABS the engineers at the Williams F1 team had to utilise the combined power of 3 computers in order to make this system work. Next these engineers executed stage 2, identification of a thematic framework of the IS structure. This stage is used to improve the quality of the data collected. The working principle of this stage is to only utilise the relevant information needed for the system to work, while not interpreting other useless data. This helps the system have a quicker response time to its surroundings while also being able to reduce the computing power and the heavy packaging which comes with it. The engineers applied stage 2 by pre-loading many different responses onto the ABS computer according to every speed and driver input scenario. Stage 3 of the structure deals with the indexing and validation of the thematic framework. In this stage the gathered information is repeatedly compared and tweaked in order to refine the information system for real life application. In relation to other stages of this information system we can definitely say this one was the performed flawlessly by the Williams engineers as the 2 second advantage a lap speaks for itself. Charting is stage 4 of our respective structure and as the name suggests it deals with creating a chart of possible input and outputs for all vehicles of different size and weight. This is where we get our first crossover from the formula 1 world into the consumer car design. During this stage engineers created a competent table that can be applied to every passenger vehicle produced, instead of creating an individual chart for each model. Finally stage 5 called mapping and interpretation was introduced. This is the exact moment where widescale ABS was being used in consumer cars as the common framework set by the ABS table maintained financial viability for car producers.

Information systems technology allowed engineers to transform data into something we can read, understand and interpret. By understanding the data at hand, some great minds were able to simplify it down to invent systems which changed the world we live in such as the example of ABS mentioned above. After all as M. Russell Ballard said “To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify.” In conclusion the use of empirical measurements, testing and studying datasets in information systems was revolutionary in bringing vehicle safety to the incredible standards we have today. However these methods don’t play as big a part in innovation anymore. In modern times information systems are becoming more advanced by the day with the use computer simulation instead of theories mentioned above. If you would like me to expand on the increasingly complicated information systems used in computer simulation please leave a comment below. For now I hope you enjoyed this week of the Shake n Bake blog and keep tuned for more motoring content next week!

References

· Chen Hong, Yu Ping, Hailey David, Cui, Tingru, 2020, Identification of the essential components of quality in the data collection process for public health information systems

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