The STCT committee consisted of seven panels, six dealing with (1) biological, (2) chemical, (3) nuclear/radiological, (4) information technology, (5) transportation, and (6) energy domains, and a seventh on behavioral and social/
institutional issues. The charge to the STCT panels was outlined in a briefing at the CoHF meeting: to identify key areas (threats) to which the technical domain relates, evaluate the capacity for dealing with these threats, and identify barriers to the use of technology to counter the threats. The panels were asked to provide top-priority research issues by March 2002 and by September 11, 2002, to recommend “ways in which the federal R&D enterprise must evolve in policy and structure in light of the expectation that terrorism is a permanent feature of
As I listened to this briefing and the impressive list of scientists and scholars appointed to the various panels (distinguished by being either Nobel Prize winners or NAS members), I was struck by two things: First, HF/E was mentioned, but only in passing, and was relegated to the last panel (a telling position?) on behavioral issues. In my view, however, HF/E needed to be seen as an integral part of the six technical domains and not as a separate activity within
another category. Without HF/E input, technological “solutions” to cope with threats in domains such as transportation and information technology were likely to be unsuccessful. A second point that was obvious from the briefing was that of the several distinguished panel members in the six technical domains,
only one had HF/E or social/behavioral science expertise: Don Norman, who was in the information technology panel.
(Subsequently, HF/E expert Bill Rouse was appointed to another panel
on systems engineering.) Both of these issues – the role of HF/E in the design and use of technology and the lack of HF/E expertise – seemed to me to be important problems that needed to be pointed out to the STCT Committee. Accordingly, the CoHF decided to attempt to get the six technical panels to consider HF/E.