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Value of Information Tool to Support Military Data Acquisition

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Info Systems 

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to solicit the development of a value of information (VoI) software tool to prioritize data collection in the face of uncertain environmental and situational conditions. In addition to supporting Department of Defense (DoD) knowledge acquisition, the objective for this tool is to aid the Warfighter in identifying the sources of uncertainty (both environmental and otherwise) that pose the greatest threat to mission success. 

DESCRIPTION: The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Warfighter are constantly operating in an environment of uncertainty. Uncertainty can manifest in environmental conditions, adversary characteristics, operational scenarios, etc. Decisions are made to reduce that environmental and situational uncertainty through data collection and analysis. Data collection and analysis are expensive and time-consuming, and can delay mission objectives. Moreover, it is infeasible to perform all data collection and analysis required to completely eliminate the uncertainty in any operation or mission situation. For that reason, prioritization of information gathering is critically important, and occurs at many levels of DoD operations and by the Soldier Warfighter. However, current methods for the prioritization of data collection lack scientifically defensible reasoning, and the most cost-effective courses of action are not always implemented (Keisler et al., 2014). Therefore, there is a need for a general, effective, and user-friendly software tool for identifying the environmental and situational information acquisition strategy that is most cost-effective at reducing uncertainty and increasing the probability of mission success. Value of information (VoI) analysis is a part of the broader methodology known as decision analysis (Yokota and Thompson, 2004). Current decision analysis software can be used to calculate VoI for single decisions. The solicited product will instead focus VoI as the key output, enabling development of mission-level data acquisition strategies involving a large number of potential data and information sources. This can provide a basis for prioritizing such acquisition efforts to support mission objectives (Bates et al., 2015), while taking into account current information availability and the potential for additional collection and creation of information, in the context of the mission’s decision requirements. In particular, the purpose of VoI analysis in the context of reducing environmental and situational uncertainty is to provide the greatest risk reduction benefit to the mission with respect to the cost of data acquisition (Linkov et al., 2011). To meet the needs of DoD, the offeror will develop a VoI software tool to be used for prioritizing data acquisition strategies in situations of uncertainty. This tool should be adaptable to accommodate a varied range of data and challenges. Example applications include reducing uncertainty in environmental quality at installations, understanding relationships between communities and installations, and gathering information about foreign areas of operation for environmental or operational purposes 

PHASE I: (Feasibility Study) The offeror will design and develop a general and configurable value of information (VoI) analysis framework that can be applied to many operational and management scenarios with the greatest ease-of-implementation. A hypothetical case study should be developed that illustrates data acquisition strategies that provide the most cost-effective benefit to mission objectives. The offeror will produce an alpha version of the VoI methodology with a typical desktop computing system with Windows operating system to implement the case study. Phase I should result in the data input and results structure needed to develop prototype software, to be refined and extended in Phase II. 

PHASE II: (Prototype Delivery) Phase II shall produce a working VoI software beta version fully capable of incorporating the range of data collection alternatives and mission objectives necessary to meet DoD needs. The beta version software program should have an intuitive user interface with flexible application to the range of problems typical for operations and execution of military missions. The success of the Phase II effort should be measured by the ability of the prototype software to effectively execute a relative DoD case study. Moreover, the VoI tool should be applicable to civilian objectives and data collection needs in order to maximize the utility of the project. 

PHASE III: Short description indicating possible commercialization (will include both military and civilian applications). 

REFERENCES: 

1: Bates, M.E., Keisler, J.M., Zussblatt, N.P., Plourde, K.J., Wender, B.A., Linkov, I., 2015. Balancing research and funding using value of information and portfolio tools for nanomaterial risk classification. Nature Nanotechnology 11, 198–203. doi:10.1038/nnano.2015.249

2:  Keisler, J.M., Collier, Z.A., Chu, E., Sinatra, N., Linkov, I., 2014. Value of information analysis: the state of application. Environment Systems and Decisions 34, 3–23.

3:  Linkov, I., Bates, M.E., Canis, L.J., Seager, T.P., Keisler, J.M., 2011. A decision-directed approach for prioritizing research into the impact of nanomaterials on the environment and human health. Nature Nanotechnology 6, 784–787. doi:10.1038/nnano.2011.163

4:  Yokota, F., Thompson, K.M., 2004. Value of information analysis in environmental health risk management decisions: past, present, and future. Risk analysis 24, 635–650.

KEYWORDS: Data Collection, Value Of Information, Decision Analysis, Situational Awareness, Mission Effectiveness, Environmental, Optimization 

CONTACT(S): 

Matthew Wood 

(978) 318-8793 

matthew.d.wood54.civ@mail.mil 

Drew Loney 

(601) 634-3490 

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