Seminar: How to Write Compelling Safety Arguments

  Event description   Programme    


How to Write Compelling Safety Arguments

Thursday 28 September, 2023 - Wellcome Collection, London

This event will consider what makes a compelling safety argument, and how to use narrative techniques to improve the flow and 'story' of the argument.

Talks include one from a professional writer: Emma Darwin,

There will be discussion on the use of metaphor and imagery in arguments and a workshop in the afternoon, "Develop Your Own Safety Stories".

This event will be held in-person at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. This is a fabulous venue with many things to see in free exhibitions.

To book please see the 'Bookings' tab above.

There are special concession rates for full-time students and retirees of £125 - please contact to book these rates.

Speakers are:

  • Carmen Carlan, Director of Safety Products at Edge Case Research - "An Overview of Best Practices for Writing Compelling Safety Arguments"
  • Emma Darwin, - "Creating Engaging Safety Narratives"
  • Tim Rowe, Consultant - "'It was the safest of systems; it was the most dangerous of systems.' Narrative structure of safety cases and safety management"
  • John Spriggs, Independent author and presenter - "Sir, I have found you an argument..."


Speaker Abstracts and Bios:

Carmen Carlan, Edge Case Research - "An Overview of Best Practices for Writing Compelling Safety Arguments"

Bio: Carmen Carlan is a safety engineer at Edge Case Research (ECR), supporting US and European customers to develop trustworthy autonomous systems in the automotive and railway domains. Her expertise comprises Systems and Software Engineering, Model-based System Engineering, System Safety Engineering, and Trustworthy AI. Also, as a Director of Safety Products at ECR, she works on continuously extending ECR's Safety Case Framework. Previously, during her Ph.D. at Technische Universität München, she worked on streamlining and automating safety assurance workflows using model-driven engineering and formal methods.

Abstract: A safety case comprises a structured argument supported by evidence, demonstrating that a specific system fulfills its safety goals. Due to the complexity of current systems and their operational environments, the continuously changing system requirements, and the plethora of standards and norms that need to be followed, system safety engineers face challenges while building sound safety cases. This talk discusses state-of-the-art solutions that guide the development of comprehensive and defensible safety cases, such as using metamodels to build safety argument models amenable to automated analyses, reusing previously proven to be successful arguments via pattern instantiation, or qualitatively and quantitatively reasoning about uncertainty in the system behaviour, its operational environments, and the associated safety evidence. Further, this talk gives an overview of 1) the ECR's framework, which comprises templates for arguing about the safe deployment of self-driving systems while following the UL 4600 guidance, and 2) patterns for arguing about the safety of assurance of ML components developed in the context of safe.trAIn, a project funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, which addresses the technological challenges of driverless regional transport.

Emma Darwin, - "Creating Engaging Safety Narratives"

Bio: Emma was born and brought up in London, with interludes in Manhattan and Brussels, and studied Drama & Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. Her novels have been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers Best First Book and RNA Novel of the Year awards. She is also the author of Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, and her memoir This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin is now out in paperback. She has taught creative writing at Oxford University and the Open University, and given workshops at universities and literary festivals from Auckland to Zurich. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, and her blog This Itch of Writing is linked to by universities and publishers around the world.

Abstract: Safety cases are written by experts in their field, but they have to make their case to regulators and managers who may not have the same expertise and experience of technical concepts and vocabulary; what all have in common, however, is the human hard-wiring for a narrative or story. In this practical seminar, we will unpack the story-structures that embody our inborn understanding of causation and result, and explore how to transform critical processes and situations into concepts and scenarios that non-specialists can not only grasp, but work with over the long term.


Tim Rowe, Consultant - "'It was the safest of systems; it was the most dangerous of systems.' Narrative structure of safety cases and safety management"

Bio: Tim has had over 40 years of experience in the safety management of systems, mainly in the civil aviation ground-systems domain, including both the authoring and auditing of safety cases. In addition to his engineering qualifications, he has a first-class honours BA in Humanities with English Language.

Abstract: Can formal study of language help towards making more compelling safety cases? Does it add anything to the plain writing courses most of us have probably been on? Maybe, maybe not, but it might at least provide other perspectives on the challenges facing us.



John Spriggs, Independent author and presenter - "Sir, I have found you an argument..."

Bio: John Spriggs was an avionics designer, system design reviewer and auditor, including doing code reviews, for a couple of decades. A hostile takeover made him move to a multi-national manufacturer of airports, and equipment supporting the air navigation services, where he became the Safety Assurance Manager. Then, with the new millennium, John moved to be the Safety Assurance Consultant for an innovation factory. Finally, he spent about fifteen years in various safety and quality roles with an Air Navigation Services Provider, before leaving to become an independent author and presenter, and  also the editor of the Safety-Critical Systems eJournal.

Abstract: James Boswell quoted Samuel Johnson as saying, "Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding".  Clearly Dr Johnson would not be the best person to produce an assurance argument; the understanding is key, so how do we help the reader find it?


SCSC.UK uses anonymous session cookies please see Privacy policy

© SCSC 2024