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Predictive Visualizations to Aid Rapid Decision Making


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems 

OBJECTIVE: To provide Tactical Commanders with an improved method of automatically visualized data tailored to human cognition for prompt and efficient decision making. A focus on reliability, as opposed to complexity, would provide a more approachable user experience for Tactical Commanders expecting concise results in rapid assessments. 

DESCRIPTION: Tactical Commanders require improved, tailorable and automated data visualization approaches in the Command and Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I) domain to help them grasp and take advantage of key information in both rich and sparse data environments. For data to be useful and actionable, investments must be made in analyzing that information and communicating it in a way that is easy to use and practical. This requires analysis and development of mechanisms that enable non-data specialists to understand and use data. Data visualization approaches should consider human cognition and current context, and should adapt to fit the commander’s thought process and decision-making horizons. An effort is needed to study, define, and categorize a reasonable set of military decisions that can be improved with new data visualization approaches. The paper A Showcase of Visualization Approaches For Military Decision Makers proposes a conceptual model to capture and implement advanced data visualization. This model, with some of the detail shown below, is meant only as an example (other models can be proposed) of how new data visualizations can be described and prototyped. • The Domain Context is a model that defines the focus for the application of visualization approaches - i.e. where visualization approaches will be applied, who will be supported, and why those approaches are needed. 1 • Descriptive Aspects (DA) define what needs to be described for particular domain contexts. For example, DAs could be defined in terms of the various elements (or things) that are of importance, the relationships between those elements, and particular attributes that describe the elements and relationships. • The Visualization Approach dimension defines how the required information can be provided through computer-based visualization. Approaches are characterized in terms of the visual representations used (e.g., graphs, charts, maps) and related visual enhancements (e.g., use of overlays, distortion, animation). 

PHASE I: Using available literature resources, investigate and analyze key aspects of data visualization approaches. Assessments of task complexity, dynamic context elements, the cognitive cycle of perception / comprehension / projection, differences in individuals’ training and background, the transformation of raw data into information, and data streams that are typical and/or representative of the tactical environment are a partial list of the factors that should be considered. A methodology for combining those factors into a representation that could drive visualizations is desired. 

PHASE II: The methodology and framework should be refined during the first portion of phase 2. An assessment of how to validate specific approaches should be presented. The contractor will then develop a prototype that uses actual and/or representative data inputs, the various factors driving the visualization, and a Common Operational Picture that would be used by commander and staff to develop situational awareness and understanding in an optimal way. SME feedback into prototype visualizations is desired. Measurements of how well specific visualizations fit the objective are expected, as the usefulness and appropriateness of the visualization techniques are expected to be matured over the life of the SBIR. The contractor will work with the government to develop an initial plan for how the techniques could be integrated into systems of record. This would include proposed mechanisms for collecting user and situation data in real-time to update visualizations. 

PHASE III: During Phase 3 the prototype will be matured, and the contractor will work with the government to demonstrate the software to user juries in operational settings. Quick incorporation of feedback into the software baseline is expected. A real-world implementation/ deployment analysis should also be performed; the contractor will work with the government to establish a process for integrating the data collection and visualization approaches into one or more typical systems of record, such as the Command Post Computing Environment (CPCE). The contractor will work with the government to identify other potential adopters of the technology, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 


1: Gouin, Evdokiou, Vernik, A Showcase of Visualization Approaches For Military Decision Makers, 2004

KEYWORDS: Data, Visualization, Decisions, Informed, Cognitive, Aid, Technical, Evaluation 


Nicholas Grayson 

(443) 395-0885 

Gabriel Brandao 

(443) 395-0885 

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