About the Safety-Critical Systems Club
Safety-critical systems and the accidents that don’t happen
When a plane crashes, it makes headlines. That hundreds of thousands of flights each week do not crash is accepted as routine. Air traffic control systems, railway signalling, automatic car braking systems, defence systems, nuclear power stations and medical equipment (increasingly including home medical electronics) are some of the complex systems in use, on which life and property depend. That these safety-critical systems do work well is because of the expertise and diligence of professional systems safety engineers, regulators and other practitioners who work to minimise both the likelihood that accidents will occur, and the consequences of those that do. Their efforts prevent untold deaths every year. The Safety-Critical Systems Club (SCSC) has been working hard for more than twenty years to ensure that this continues to be the case.
What is the Safety-Critical Systems Club?
The SCSC is the UK’s professional network for sharing knowledge about safety-critical systems. It brings together engineers and specialists from a range of disciplines working on safety-critical systems in a wide variety of industries, academics researching the arena of safety-critical systems, providers of the tools and services that are needed to develop the systems, and the regulators who oversee safety. It provides, through publications, seminars, workshops, tutorials, a web site and, most importantly, at the annual Safety-critical Systems Symposium, opportunities for them to network and benefit from each other’s experience in working hard at the accidents that don’t happen. It focuses on current and emerging practices in safety engineering, software engineering, and product and process safety standards.
What does the SCSC do?
The SCSC maintains a web site of useful resources. It publishes a regular newsletter, Safety Systems. It sponsors initiatives to develop methods and techniques (SCSC working groups are currently developing guidance for data in safety systems, Security aspects of safety, Autonomous Systems Safety and Assurance cases). It organises seminars, workshops and training delivered by experts in their field. Since 1993 it has organised the annual Safety-critical Systems Symposium (SSS) where leaders in different aspects of safety, from different industries, including engineers, managers, regulators and academics, meet to exchange information and experience, with the papers published in a proceedings volume. It also maintains a LinkedIn group, which is used for announcements and discussions. All these activities are there to meet its mission:
... to raise awareness and facilitate technology transfer in the field of safety-critical systems ...
The SCSC is a not-for-profit organisation that offers events and publications at competitive prices that are set to cover the operating costs of the club. The club benefits from the active support of its members in all activities.
Why join the SCSC?
By joining the SCSC you get the benefit of the Club’s activities, receiving Safety Systems three times a year, participation in working groups, access to an archive of technical papers, advance notice of events, including workshops, seminars and the annual Symposium, and discounted entry to the events. You benefit professionally by being at the leading edge of knowledge on safety-critical matters.
You also help sustain the development of safety-critical systems in the UK and beyond. By taking part in the events you contribute to the spread of knowledge. And your subscription helps the SCSC survive. Without the membership fees to sustain the secretariat, it would be impossible to undertake all these activities.
For more information on joining the scsc please see the membership page.
The SCSC held its first meeting in July 1991 and published its first newsletter in September that year. It was sponsored by the UK Department of Trade and Industry and the Science and Engineering Research Council and was supported by the British Computer Society and the Institution of Electrical Engineers, who have since become the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
The task of running the SCSC was given to the Centre for Software Reliability at Newcastle University led by Professor Tom Anderson, with the invaluable assistance of Joan Atkinson and Felix Redmill. In 2016 the club was transferred to the University of York with Professor Tim Kelly in charge, assisted by our business manager Alex King and with Dr Mike Parsons coordinating the events programme. In 2019, following his ordination in the Church of England, Tim Kelly left the University and became Assistant Curate of Beverley Minster at which point Mike Parsons took over the role of SCSC Leader.
Since December 2020 the SCSC has been a Community Interest Company, this is a special type of limited company, which exists to benefit a community rather than private shareholders. A C.I.C. has:
- A community interest statement that defines the beneficiaries –the community it serves – and how it plans to benefit that community,
in our case "We will support Safety Practitions working across all sectors and organisations",
- An ‘asset lock’ –a legal promise stating that its assets will only be used to achieve the community benefit objectives,
- A constitution and Articles of Association as a limited company,
- Approval by the Regulator of Community Interest Companies to whom it has to report achievements every year.