By the same authors

From the same journal

Model-based specification of safety compliance needs for critical systems: A holistic generic metamodel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Jose Luis de la Vara
  • Alejandra Ruiz
  • Katrina Attwood
  • Huáscar Espinoza
  • Rajwinder Kaur Panesar-Walawege
  • Ángel López
  • Idoya del Río
  • Tim Kelly


Publication details

JournalInformation and Software Technology
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Dec 2015
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2016
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)16-30
Early online date10/12/15
Original languageEnglish


Abstract Context: Many critical systems must comply with safety standards as a way of providing assurance that they do not pose undue risks to people, property, or the environment. Safety compliance is a very demanding activity, as the standards can consist of hundreds of pages and practitioners typically have to show the fulfilment of thousands of safety-related criteria. Furthermore, the text of the standards can be ambiguous, inconsistent, and hard to understand, making it difficult to determine how to effectively structure and manage safety compliance information. These issues become even more challenging when a system is intended to be reused in another application domain with different applicable standards. Objective: This paper aims to resolve these issues by providing a metamodel for the specification of safety compliance needs for critical systems. Method: The metamodel is holistic and generic, and abstracts common concepts for demonstrating safety compliance from different standards and application domains. Its application results in the specification of “reference assurance frameworks” for safety-critical systems, which correspond to a model of the safety criteria of a given standard. For validating the metamodel with safety standards, parts of several standards have been modelled by both academic and industry personnel, and other standards have been analysed. We further augment this with feedback from practitioners, including feedback during a workshop. Results: The results from the validation show that the metamodel can be used to specify safety compliance needs for aerospace, automotive, avionics, defence, healthcare, machinery, maritime, oil and gas, process industry, railway, and robotics. Practitioners consider that the metamodel can meet their needs and find benefits in its use. Conclusion: The metamodel supports the specification of safety compliance needs for most critical computer-based and software-intensive systems. The resulting models can provide an effective means of structuring and managing safety compliance information.

    Research areas

  • Safety-critical system, Safety standard, Safety compliance, Safety assurance, Safety certification, Reference assurance framework

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