SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  A10-092 (Army)
Title:  Contextual Framework for Command and Control Decision Making
Research & Technical Areas:  Information Systems, Human Systems

Acquisition Program:  PM Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team
  Objective:  Perform research into the definition, representation, measurement, and manipulation of a Commander's contextual framework as he interacts with a Command and Control system, in order to help him gain increased situation awareness and, as a result, help him to make better decisions more quickly.
  Description:  A Commander's contextual framework helps him to analyze data and information at his disposal in order to make command decisions. It may include, but is not limited to, his background, education, experiences, intelligence, memory, creativity, relationships, and trust in tools and individuals. The contextual framework helps a Commander to use data and/or information from disparate sources (both software tools and people) to gain increased awareness and understanding of the situation he is involved in, and can help him to project possible future impacts of specific actions that he may make as a result of this data and information. Command and Control systems are designed with context as an inherent consideration - workflow, rules and logic in the software, the user interface, and so on are all based on the context of the problem being solved and the decision being made. However, there are aspects of context that are truly dynamic and personal, and can only be discovered as the Commander interacts with a unique and constantly evolving problem set and with systems and fellow warfighters similarly engaged in a specific scenario. The underlying goal of this research is to study issues pertaining to the enhancement of a Commander's understanding of a situation by the consideration of a contextual framework that can be associated with a set of data and information. Research areas to be considered include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) the elements that define a contextual framework for this class of problems (2) the representation of a contextual framework (3) the measurement of a contextual framework (from monitoring certain aspects of the Commander's interactions with systems and other warfighters) (4) the association of portions of a contextual framework with data and/or information (5) the sharing of portions of a contextual framework between warfighters for enhanced situation awareness (6) the operations to manipulate a contextual framework in order to improve the Commander's cognitive understanding of the situation at hand

  PHASE I: (1) Investigate the concept of a contextual framework and identify all elements that should be considered for inclusion in the study. Perform a feasibility study to ascertain which elements should be included in a prototype conceptual framework. Feasibility analysis should consider not only potential payoffs but the level of difficulty in capturing, manipulating, and using the data. (2) Develop an initial design that describes how a contextual framework would be implemented in a dynamic command and control system. Sample workflows that demonstrate the use of specific elements from the contextual framework should be included for illustrative purposes. (3) Investigate software architecture, network, and database issues associated with the inclusion of a framework in a command and control system.
  PHASE II: (1) Describe a detailed design for the inclusion of a contextual framework in a command and control system. (2) Develop the contextual framework and implement it as part of a command and control system. (3) Demonstrate the application of the contextual framework to a commander's workflow in a representative operational scenario. (4) Demonstrate the sharing of portions of a commander's contextual framework with another commander with a different contextual framework. Deliverables will include: a written document describing the contextual framework software source code that includes the functionality in (3) and (4) above a written report that details the results from (3) and (4) above

  PHASE III: A contextual framework that could be used to improve an operator's performance would have applicability not only to command and control systems, but to many other military applications (fire support systems, in-flight pilot assistance software, supply and logistics management, etc.). A framework could have many different commercial uses as well - air traffic control, financial analysis, medical diagnostics, etc. In general, any system that relies on the experience and expertise of the user to analyze data and information and make a decision could be a target for application of a contextual framework.

  References:  attle of Cognition, The Future Information-Rich Warfare and the Mind of the Commander, edited by Alexander Kott, Praeger Security International, Westport, Connecticut Tactical Human Integration of Networked Knowledge (THINK) Army Technology Objective - Research (ATO-R)

Keywords:  command and control, contextual framework, situation awareness, cognition

Questions and Answers:
Q: Is there a command and control system of interest?
A: No knowledge of a specific command and control system is required.
However, an understanding of a commander's workflow and the issues that can impede the development of the different levels of situation awareness in a battle command environment would be helpful.

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