Road Inspectors

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Road use relies on passable roads, which is the main responsibility of the road

inspectors. They take care of objects and defects that can disturb the traffic.

A pre-condition to be able to stop and repair the defects is to observe and

identify possible defects simultaneously as driving. Consequently, each inspector

spends most of his working day alone inside the cabin of the truck

(Esbjörnsson & Juhlin, 2002).

The inspector is surrounded with a large palette of equipment inside the cabin

of the truck, including an FM radio, communication radio (UHF), a handheld

computer, and a mobile phone equipped with hands-free. The ProData

system, consisting of the mobile computer connected to a GPS-receiver, is the

main tool for gathering information during inspection. All defects reported are

coded and linked to the geographic location. The codes are based on a contract

with the orderer, described in a document placed in each vehicle. The log

created by ProData will then verify that the roads have been properly

inspected. Mobile phones are used to inform colleagues about local contingencies

and to delegate tasks. It is also necessary to communicate with colleagues

to stay updated on the status of the road network and to share joint information

regarding their tasks.

Performing Road Inspection in a Vast Working Area

The inspector patrols the road network according to a predetermined schedule.

The frequency of the inspections on each road type is determined by traffic flow

and road size. Main roads in the region are inspected every other day.

Consequently, the minor roads are inspected less frequently. The inspection

tours lasts around seven hours and takes the inspector 150 to 250 kilometers.

The field note on the top of the following page illustrates the importance of the

physical objects situated along the predefined inspection routes.

Implicitly from this field note, and the introduction to the road inspectors, the

vast setting of the inspection tours plays an important role in their work. The

performance of the working tasks does not only take place inside the cabin of

the truck, thus the inspector has to divide his focus between driving and

inspecting the environment outside. The inspection area is vast, containing

amounts of objects that all possibly could cause working tasks. However, as

in the case presented above, it is the lack of a physical object (line 1-2) that

causes action.

Furthermore, the way he deliberately leaves the broken reflection-pole (line 7-

8) as a visual clue, even though he could have loaded it on the truck, indicates

the importance of the physical objects. The reflection-pole now fulfills an

additional purpose, as a physical object defining the location and the task

connected to it. The location is of importance seeing that he has to take care

of the identified defect at a later occasion. This example illustrates how the road

inspectors associate understandings to locations. The ProData system is

supposed to be the main tool when reporting and managing identified defects

along the roads. Nevertheless it has its shortcomings; it appears not to be strong

enough alone to define a location. The inspector specifies the location by a

textual geographical description, in addition to the one supplied by the GPS.

However, this annotation is done in combination with the left reflection pole.

This could be due to the fact that the reported data is not accessible while being

out in the car.

Public Transport

The primary task of public transport is to pick up, transport, and drop off

passengers. For this distributed and mobile activity, the busses are coordinated

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When turning into the Vallentuna-exit Jacob discover the loss of one

reflection-pole. When in place of the lost pole, we can see it lying in the

ditch. He stops the car and starts to look in the list of available defectcodes.

He selects a code, and enters a text where he describes the exact

position, despite the position given by GPS. He justifies it with the

argument that he wants to make it obvious that the pole was placed in the

curve of the exit. This is done without leaving the vehicle. He leaves the

pole until he comes back to take care of the defect. He memorizes that he

has to bring some extra poles, since the top is broken on several others.

He does not take notes on this.

Observation 1. A broken reflection pole

to move in a somewhat organized fashion. Bus drivers rely on formal plans to

provide the service in a predictable and reliable manner. They have pre-defined

routes, available on maps, to follow at given times, available in the timetable.

The bus drivers also try to maneuver the busses so that they follow a predictable

rhythm on the road. Through several drivers’ movement, an intricate network

of coordinated public transport is created. However, this coordinated network

depends on each driver’s ability to maneuver according to the pre-described

timetable. Inconsistencies can be handled by shifting to active collaboration by

using communication support available in the bus (Juhlin & Vesterlind, 2001).

This consists of a radio communication systems that is provided and monitored

by the contractors, however the drivers’ private mobile phones are also used for

that purpose. Further, the route is ascribed with a number displayed on each vehicle.