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Facilitating Automated Compliance Checking of Processes against Safety Standards


Publication Type:

Licentiate Thesis


A system is safety-critical if its malfunctioning could have catastrophic consequences for people, property or the environment, e.g., the failure in a car's braking system could be potentially tragic. To produce such type of systems, special procedures, and strategies, that permit their safer deployment into society, should be used. Therefore, manufacturers of safety-critical systems comply with domain-specific safety standards, which embody the public consensus of acceptably safe. Safety standards also contain a repository of expert knowledge and best practices that can, to some extent, facilitate the safety-critical system’s engineering. In some domains, the applicable safety standards establish the accepted procedures that regulate the development processes. For claiming compliance with such standards, companies should adapt their practices and provide convincing justifications regarding the processes used to produce their systems, from the initial steps of the production. In particular, the planning of the development process, in accordance with the prescribed process-related requirements specified in the standard, is an essential piece of evidence for compliance assessment. However, providing such evidence can be time-consuming and prone-to-error since it requires that process engineers check the fulfillment of hundreds of requirements based on their processes specifications. With access to suitable tool-supported methodologies, process engineers would be able to perform their job efficiently and accurately.Safety standards prescribe requirements in natural language by using notions that are subtly similar to the concepts used to describe laws. In particular, requirements in the standards introduce conditions that are obligatory for claiming compliance. Requirements also define tailoring rules, which are actions that permit to comply with the standard in an alternative way. Unfortunately, current approaches for software verification are not furnished with these notions, which could make their use in compliance checking difficult. However, existing tool-supported methodologies designed in the legal compliance context, which are also proved in the business domain, could be exploited for defining an adequate automated compliance checking approach that suits the conditions required in the safety-critical context.The goal of this Licentiate thesis is to propose a novel approach that combines: 1) process modeling capabilities for representing systems and software process specifications, 2) normative representation capabilities for interpreting the requirements of the safety standards in an adequate machine-readable form, and 3) compliance checking capabilities to provide the analysis required to conclude whether the model of a process corresponds to the model with the compliant states proposed by the standard's requirements. Our approach contributes to facilitating compliance checking by providing automatic reasoning from the requirements prescribed by the standards, and the description of the process they regulate. It also contributes to cross-fertilize two communities that were previously isolated, namely safety-critical and legal compliance contexts. Besides, we propose an approach for mastering the interplay between highly-related standards. This approach includes the reuse capabilities provided by SoPLE (Safety-oriented Process Line Engineering), which is a methodological approach aiming at systematizing the reuse of process-related information in the context of safety-critical systems. With the addition of SoPLE, we aim at planting the seeds for the future provision of systematic reuse of compliance proofs. Hitherto, our proposed methodology has been evaluated with academic examples that show the potential benefits of its use.


@misc{Castellanos Ardila5453,
author = {Julieth Patricia Castellanos Ardila},
title = {Facilitating Automated Compliance Checking of Processes against Safety Standards},
url = {}