Operations Analysis & Human Systems

Our focus is people. As the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) White Paper 2010 states, ‘the core capability of the NZDF will remain its people’.

Every technology is designed, developed, focused and used (in some way) to:

  •  extend and enhance the capabilities of people
  •  sustain people
  •  protect and repair people.

The purpose of our research is to help the NZDF to get the best performance possible from their people. Our knowledge of the abilities and limitations of defence personnel help us to improve their operational efficiency, effectiveness and safety.

Our main areas of work are:

These areas are explained below.

You may also like to view publications relating to our human systems research.

Current publications

Physical performance and well-being

Our research helps to ensure defence personnel are prepared for and resilient to the demands of military tasks.

We use the fundamental understanding of physical abilities and competencies, together with knowledge of the personnel tasks and military operating context, to deliver enhanced performance through:

  • optimisation of training
  • valid and reliable fitness testing
  • reduced injury occurrence and severity
  • optimal rehabilitation.

Our advice helps to improve the physical performance of defence personnel. This leads to better operational capability and military readiness across the NZDF.

We conduct research in areas such as:

  • physical training – by developing strategies to address the gap between the demands of roles and the current limitations of the individual
  • physical environments – from high altitude to extremes of temperature and humidity, noise and vibration
  • injury prevention and rehabilitation – identify how and why injuries occur, then design and implement strategies to reduce the number of incidents and their severity, and then measure how effective the strategies have been
  • recruitment screening and in-service monitoring – to identify individuals who are at greater risk of injury or under-performance and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate that risk
  • personal health and wellness – by recognising that improved physical health and wellness affects operational capability.

Case study: land combat fitness test

Training and simulation

Keeping training relevant and affordable is challenging, especially when the NZDF’s systems are increasingly technical and complex. Our research helps the NZDF to develop appropriate and affordable training.

Our current areas of interest are:

  • decision support – eg future operational concepts and scenarios, cost and effectiveness, and force readiness training
  • people (trainers and trainees) – eg future training objectives, training methods to develop human competencies, and measurement methods for training transfer
  • training delivery – eg operational, system and technical architectures, live virtual and constructive (LVC) training systems for individuals and groups, and simulation and synthetic environments framework.

Case study: light armoured vehicle trainer joysticks

Case study: learner profiles

Human factors engineering

ImageWe analyse military systems and provide engineering advice to NZDF. This helps to make sure the definition, design and development of equipment, systems and physical working spaces matches the requirements of military personnel.

Our research in this area includes:

  • operator equipment and workstation design – making recommendations to improve equipment geometry and layout, and arrangement of instruments, displays and controls
  • command team workspace analysis and design – providing recommendations for the best arrangement of command teams and their working environments
  • human reliability analysis – identifying the underlying causes when human performance is not as good as it should be
  • anthropometric (human body measurement) data collection.

Case study: ANZAC frigates bridge console design

Case study: Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) console design

Soldiers’ systems support

We do research to get the data required for evidence-based decision-making in support of soldier systems equipment acquisition.

Our analysis seeks to counter reduced operational capability due to failure of equipment to meet expected operational performance through incompatibility with soldier need and a failure of integration.

Our research in this area includes:

  • developing methods and techniques to assess individual and collective performance of mounted and dismounted combat troops
  • assessing and reducing the soldier ’burden’
  • doing formal operability trials as part of Test and Acceptance activities.

Cognitive performance

We provide specialist advice on the cognitive elements (eg thought, experience and senses) of human performance that are required to support NZDF systems.

This includes the examination of individuals, teams and collective measures of performance – especially in relation to situational awareness and complex decision-making.

We do research to identify the baseline abilities of NZDF personnel, and to understand the impact of ‘performance shaping factors’ on these abilities.

Examples of our research in this area include:

      • helping the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to implement a fatigue risk management system
      • examining the use of architectural frameworks to understand complex C4ISR systems
      • researching the theoretical foundations of team organisation, processes and performance, by developing agent-based models to predict team performance
      • assessing system enhancement through operability evaluation of future technologies.