Alarms have been in use for many decades, yet there still needs to be more clarity about what makes a good alarm. Vendors and government agencies have developed several useful handbooks describing the Do’s and Don’ts of effective alarm design; however, to date, we cannot find a comprehensive quantitative taxonomy or classification system that allows researchers to easily score and rank various alarm designs in any field—while using a common language that users, engineers, designers, and human factors professionals can understand. The Alarm Taxonomy and Classification System (ATACS) fills this gap in the literature by breaking alarms down into categorical characteristics, providing a quantitative methodology for scoring each characteristic, and outlining a process by which users, vendors, and human factors professionals can agree on the efficacy of the alarm in question. We discuss this process in detail and show how this system was used to improve landing gear warnings.



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