The wisdom of the crowd

9 September 2019

Armin Beirle, CANSO Operations Standing Committee (OSC) Chair and Head of ACC Langen, DFS, explains why it’s not just the work you do – but the people who you do it with that counts.

Sometimes it is the collective decision or action of a group that can better guide an outcome than an individual or expert working alone. And as our industry becomes increasingly complex, with different global and regional factors influencing the way we operate, we must remind ourselves that working together is essential if we are to pool our experience and knowledge to its greatest effect.

In 1907, a statistician and eugenicist, Sir Francis Galton, was intrigued by the extent to which individuals can assess particular situations and make accurate decisions. He tested this at a farmers’ fair in Plymouth, England. Fair-goers were challenged to guess the weight of an ox – the prize being the ox itself for the accurate guesser. 800 people entered the contest and wrote their guesses on tickets but no one guessed the exact weight, not even the cattle experts at the fair.

Afterwards however, Galton ran a statistical analysis of the guesses given, and discovered that the average guess was remarkably close to the actual weight of the ox. In fact, it was only one pound off.

He deduced that while individuals can struggle to make correct assessments on their own, aggregating information and perspectives can produce amazing results.

People power

Think crowd sourcing platforms such as internet search engines, your Waze navigation app, or flu forecasting by the CDC – they all deliver remarkably accurate information derived from a myriad of diverse contributors. They are better, more accurate and dynamic precisely because of the amount of information they receive.

That’s why participation in industry initiatives is valuable – not only to the individual but to the group as well. No matter what environment you operate in, working with your peers to share information and ideas to overcome common challenges is a vital model for success.

At CANSO, this might mean taking part in a global or regional workgroup or task force, or even helping to gather and analyse the latest industry data. Whatever your role, it is important that you participate and find opportunities to make progress.

OSC Full Workgroup meeting

That is why I am looking forward to the OSC Full Workgroup meeting in October. Varied contributions from across the industry are critical to the success of the ATM industry. We are in a time of change, from new technology and new entrants, to higher than ever demand for our services. It is not necessary to reinvent the wheel but it is necessary to intensify our effort to have a better focus on new and emerging technologies processes and services. To focus on regions and to detect and share best practices between our members is part oy my vision from a shared approach to address the major challenges.

And while we as individuals or organisations may not have all the answers, our experiences and insight together with others can help to find workable solutions.

So to my industry colleagues I ask you to lend your unique and extraordinary talent to help discover possible answers to issues we face. From innovative procedures to the latest technology, join us in exploring the tools and tactics that will help us to achieve our goal of realising a globally seamless, environmentally friendly and harmonised airspace system.

To find out more about how CANSO brings the industry together and tackles the key issues of the day, please read more about our programmes and workgroups or get in touch with the team. Find out more about the upcoming CANSO Operations Standing Committee (OSC) Full Workgroup Meetings 2019 here.

Operations

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About the author

 
Armin Beirle CANSO Operations Standing Committee (OSC) Chair and Head of ACC Langen, DFS

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