But we failed to realize two important facts – not all alarms are alike and too many alarms can result in alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue is a sensory overload where a person is exposed to an excessive number of alarms. It can lead to longer response times, or in the case of the short story “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” it can lead to ignored life-threatening events. The Cry Wolf syndrome was leading to our partners ignoring all alarms or turning off notifications altogether.
So we analyzed our current alarm notifications and removed ones that did not require corrective action. We also added new notifications that do require corrective action, such as a traffic light not responding. We then prioritized each alarm condition based on the impact the condition would have on the operation of In|Sync at the intersection.
Based on this priority, we designed an alarm recurrence frequency that was custom for each alarm type. For instance, selecting a recurring alarm for minor issues such as stuck ped detectors results in receiving a notification upon the detection of the stuck ped detector, twelve hours after the stuck ped detector was flagged and every 24 hours after until the ped issue is resolved. However, an intersection in flash alarm is a condition that needs immediate attention, so the recurrence level set on this alarm type is:
Once the alarm is detected
- 15 min later
- 1 hour later
- 2 hours later
- 4 hours later
- 8 hours later
- 12 hours later
- 24 hours later, and ongoing at 24 hours until the alarm is resolved
We also recognized that there were users in the system that just wanted to be alerted of an alarm at the start of the condition and once the condition was resolved. For these type of users, we added the non-recurring alarm option.
Through eliminating unnecessary or confusing alarm notifications and defining a smarter recurring frequency notification system based on severity, In|Sync now ensures that our partners will receive the appropriate alerts at the right frequency.