SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  N07-107 (Navy)
Title:  HSI Issues in Composable Information & Service Environments
Research & Technical Areas:  Information Systems, Human Systems

Acquisition Program:  ACAT-N/A
 RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is “ITAR Restricted”. The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the “Permanent Resident Card”, or are designated as “Protected Individuals” as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.
  Objective:  The objective of this effort is to improve the utility and usability of available information and services via compensability of user interface/displays. Cognitive and situational factors, affecting the user’s operational situation, will drive open, standards-based implementation technologies in accordance with defined composability guidelines in either a manual (adaptable) or automated (adaptive) fashion
  Description:  Network-centric applications such as the GIG, NCES, and FORCEnet, proved DOD with an opportunity to improve speed of command and mission effectiveness by increasing access to information via adaptive, web-enabled technologies. Systems such as TFW/NMCP, GCCS enhancements and Sea Warrior/NKO accelerate warfighters’ access to an increasingly wide range of information. Moreover, these technologies are evolving toward composable displays that give users the flexibility to configure their information environment in virtually limitless ways to suit their needs. While this flexibility and range can provide substantial help for operational users, the Human Systems Integration (HSI) effects of composability are not yet well understood. In some cases, composability may be necessary for the operational situation and can be employed effectively by the users. In other cases, however, composability may become a source of confusion and frustration, causing users to abandon the system and revert to previous ways of accessing information. To a large degree, the difference between successful and unsuccessful implementation depends on how well cognitive and situational factors are integrated with technical capabilities. For example, TTP’s, default settings, portal templates, and job aids have been used to help busy or novice users find an appropriate way to structure their information environment. HSI related research and development is needed in order to identify design guidelines for interface composability and to drive the implementation technologies necessary for deployment in open, industry-standard ways. This is a time-critical need that will provide substantial benefit to network centric warfare and homeland security system developers and to operational users as a way to optimize the interface design of web-enabled technologies. Composability may be defined as the capability to select and assemble information components (services and sources) in various combinations to form unique knowledge management systems and combinations to satisfy specific user requirements. Composability may be horizontal or vertical. Horizontal composability involves the combination of various information sources that are considered relevant to a particular task or problem. Vertical composability involves the abstraction of information for aggregation/disaggregation as necessary to communicate across multiple echelons. Petty (Petty, M.D., 2004) notes the distinction between syntactic and semantic forms of composability. Syntactic composability deals with the technical aspects of enabling information components to work together. Semantic composability concerns the degree to which the combined information is meaningful and useful. These latter issues interact most directly with HSI. Cognitive and situational factors determine the extent to which the users’ composable information environment should be structured or flexible. “Operational Focus” factors range from tactical to operational to strategic. Greater interface flexibility is needed at the strategic end because of the broader scope inherent. “Nature of Work” factors consider how structured or predictable the situation is. Highly structured tasks, such as strike planning, are well-understood and often specified in doctrine or SOPs. Unstructured tasks, such as responses to potential terrostit activities are more unique, requiring substantial flexibility. “Workload/Time Stress” factors range from high to low. Under high workload, human operators and decision makers need a much simpler and constrained information environment than when they are less stressed and have time to explore options. Other factors include the size of the team and the extent to which they are involved in a collaborative task, the level of experience. By understanding the cognitive and situational factors, and interactions between the various factors, the appropriate properties of the composable information environment can be defined. This effort should be built upon the human factors and computer science technical literature as well as related developments by others in order to produce a model and design guidelines. Specific solutions will be developed and tested with selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet systems. This will provide a validated design guideline with specific examples that can be used by all network-centric warfare and homeland security program offices. HSI related design derived from potential benefits and drawbacks of composable information environments will need to be identified, investigated, and resolved. In developing an appropriate level of composability, a range of interface design options should be addressed. At the most constrained level, users would have a fixed, structured, information environment. At the other extreme, users would be able to construct their unique information environment—much like building a website. In between these extremes, users would be able to select among several display templates, to customize the arrangement of information on their displays, and to tailor their information environment to the task demands. Various techniques (such as net flow analysis and task decomposition/analysis), should be investigated to monitor and analyze the dynamics of task and situation. Web service-centric models (such as, the Web Services Experience Language (WSXL) and associated components) with a focus on providing a user experience across the network for representing data, presentation, and control, defining and executing user interface behavior and navigation, and modifying, adapting, coordinating, or integrating the user’s experiences and control should be thoroughly explored and incorporated in the system’s design.

  PHASE I: •Review human-computer interface and computer science literature to identify key issues, design approaches, and tradeoff functions concerning composable information environments. •Develop a model of composable information environments based on cognitive and situational factors. Develop a range of composable interfaces in accordance with the model •Develop “best-fit” and “worst-fit” designs of composable information environments for a selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system. Collect utility and usability data from operational users to determine the impact of HSI guidelines.
  PHASE II: •Develop and implement an appropriate composable information environment for a selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system. Conduct research to collect outcome measures (mission effectiveness, human performance) in a controlled exercise environment. •Explore technical approaches for adaptive composability that alter the interface properties based on dynamic conditions of task and situation •Develop and implement adaptive information environments for horizontal composability as a method for accessing task-relevant information

  PHASE III: •Develop and implement multi-echelon (vertical) composability as a method for transferring commander’s guidance and status reports. •Test composable information environments with selected GCCS-NCES-FORCEnet systems in an exercise environment PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/

  DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Composability and its effect upon the human as defined here for the net-centric warfighter, is of equal concern to the net-centric first responder and the net-centric enterprise. Today’s public safety, emergency management and homeland security professionals as well as Fortune 1000 companies increasingly deal with information overload, new types of threats/competition and complex fields of engagement/markets while attempting to achieve a shared situational awareness/understanding while making critical decisions under a high degree of uncertainty.

  References:  1. DoD 5000.2, SECNAVINST 5000.2, NCES Technology Development Strategy 2. Adapted from Petty, M.D. (July 2002). Two aspects of composability: Lexicon and theory. DMSO Workshop on Composable Modeling and Simulation. Old Dominion University, VMASC. 3. Petty, M.D. (2004) Semantic Composability and XMSF. Old Dominion University, VMASC.

Keywords:  human systems engineering, human factors, services oriented architecture, semantic integration

Additional Information, Corrections, References, etc:
Ref #2: available at: http://www.movesinstitute.org/xmsf/workshop/petty/02_Petty_v4.ppt
Ref #2: available at: http://www.movesinstitute.org/xmsf/workshop/petty/02_Petty_v4.ppt
Ref #3: available at: http://www.movesinstitute.org/xmsf/workshop/petty/SemanticComposabilityAndXMSFv1.pdf
Ref #3: available at: http://www.movesinstitute.org/xmsf/workshop/petty/SemanticComposabilityAndXMSFv1.pdf

Questions and Answers:
Q: WRT the final bullet in Phase I, "Develop “best-fit” and “worst-fit” designs of composable information environments for a selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system. Collect utility and usability data from operational users to determine the impact of HSI guidelines."; will the selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system be defined by the solicitor and will access to operational users be granted along with the funding?
A: It will be up to the Government to select an appropriate system.

The Government will work closely with the selectee to identify representative users.
Q: WRT the final bullet in Phase I, "Develop “best-fit” and “worst-fit” designs of composable information environments for a selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system. Collect utility and usability data from operational users to determine the impact of HSI guidelines."; will the selected GIG-NCES-FORCEnet system be defined by the solicitor and will access to operational users be granted along with the funding?
A: It will be up to the Government to select an appropriate system.

The Government will work closely with the selectee to identify representative users.

Record: of