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High Risk Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Tool (HRREAT)


OBJECTIVE: To develop an integrated software tool for the collection, management, analysis, and visualization of ethnographic data in high risk areas. DESCRIPTION: The collection and analysis of socio-cultural data is becoming increasingly important for the conduct of effective military operations. The production of more scientifically valid models of human behavior has itself become increasingly dependent on available forms of socio-cultural data. The ability to rapidly collect social and cultural data in field settings is challenging under most circumstances. In conflict, denied or high risk areas these challenges become even more pronounced. This approach under non-conflict conditions has been variously referred to as rapid ethnographic assessment, quick ethnography, or simply rapid ethnography. Currently, there is little in the way of appropriate software for the conduct of rapid ethnographic research. The ethnographic software that does exist generally involves a series of standalone packages that lack the ability to move data easily among and between programs. There is a critical need for the development of an integrated software tool for enabling the collection, analysis, management, sharing and visualization of ethnographic data in denied or high risk areas. The tool should incorporate a number of ethnographic methods for the rapid collection of cultural, social and economic data based on structured and semi-structured interviews, qualitative text sources, or unobtrusive observations. The software tool will incorporate methods from cognitive anthropology and other social sciences and should include but is not limited to: 1) cultural domain analysis (CDA), 2) social network analysis (SNA), 3) structured and semi-structured interview protocol design, 4) key informant interview mapping, 5) qualitative data analysis (QDA), 6) basic geographical information systems (GIS), 7) data visualization, and 8) basic statistics. Further, the software tool should be usable and understandable by a broad community within the military and should enable better decision-making at various levels (policy, combat operations), real-time computer based cultural situational awareness for tactical decision-making, integrated data and modeling in situ for rapid socio-cultural assessment, training in ethnographic methods, data reducibility and comparability over time and across sites, and continuity and smooth transitioning of data and knowledge across individuals, teams and organizations. PHASE I: Identify and design software in line with required methods and capabilities. All methods and relevant algorithms should be identified and documented. Design should include both stand alone and web-based capabilities. PHASE II: Develop and test prototype software. Test will involve relevant data contexts and personnel. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATION: This software can be used in both military and civilian research and training contexts. The software should be of use to human Terrain Systems (HTS), Civil Affairs (CA), Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), and various other military organizations. The software should also be appropriate for training in ethnographic methods in both military and civilian contexts. REFERENCES: 1. Bernard. H. R. and G. W. Ryan. 2010. Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. 2. Borgatti, S. P., 2002. Netdraw: Network Visualization Software. Harvard: Analytic Technologies. 3. Borgatti, S. P. 1999. Elicitation techniques for cultural domain analysis. In J. Schensul & M. LeCompte (Eds.), The Ethnographer"s toolkit, vol. 3. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press. 4. Handwerker, P. 2001. Quick Ethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. 5. Johnson, J.C. 1990. Selecting Ethnographic Informants. Sage: Newbury Park. 6. Weller S. and Romney A. 1988. Systematic Data Collection. Sage Publications, Qualitative Research Methods Series, 10.
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