SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  A11-041 (Army)
Title:  Information and Decision Dynamics in Network Centric Environments
Research & Technical Areas:  Information Systems

Acquisition Program:  
  Objective:  Design, develop and demonstrate the algorithms and software components required to enable characterization and modeling of the complex human-machine dynamics of Network Centric Environments to improve very large scale distributed collaboration and decision making.
  Description:  Network centric military systems (NCW) are planned to involve hundreds to thousands of manned and autonomous entities cooperating to achieve complex joint objectives in uncertain and incomplete information environments. The introduction of pervasive networking and command architectures offers both exciting new opportunities and the possibility of unintended consequences or unanticipated changes to human roles. While in today’s military tight automated coordination exists within isolated, stove-piped systems, most information and instruction still pass through a human chain of command. Benefits from pervasive networking are expected to result in enabling an increased pace of coordinated activity and reactivity among forward forces. By sensing, communicating, and acting locally in the context of a flattened command hierarchy and in the presence of large numbers of automated collection assets, forces are expected to be able to coordinate their actions laterally to take advantage of local and rapidly changing situations. The quantities of peer-to-peer information available at the edge of the network will be much greater than those currently handled by filtering and aggregating up the hierarchy and likely beyond cognitive human capabilities. Conversely, with decision making and cooperation occurring in the NCW environment, new mechanisms may be needed for conveying the commander’s intent, assessing influence of trust in belief propagation and convergence and assessing progress on the battlefield. There is the need for techniques to model and identify potentially beneficial or damaging emergent effects that occur in these large networked human-machine systems. This SBIR aims at developing (a) agent-based technology to characterize the dynamics of such large scale human-machine systems and (b) techniques and software components to guide systems towards beneficial global results (e.g. decision optimality, reliability and robustness) and mitigating potential harmful effects. By identifying potential bottlenecks, challenges to stability, and obstacles to human control the results of the SBIR will identify potential solutions before problems are built into procured systems. The development of this technology must overcome many challenges, such as large scale effects, uncertainty and incompleteness of information, differential degrees of trust among network entities, and limited cognitive information processing capabilities of networked humans.

  PHASE I: Investigate methods for characterizing and predicting resulting effects and behavior of large scale belief propagation and cooperative problem solving systems; model the role of trust in information propagation and fusion; characterize the emergence of potential system vulnerabilities and investigate technology for mitigation of harmful effects; investigate situation assessment methods; agent technologies; adjustable autonomy schemes to determine best algorithms and architecture approach to meet the topic requirements. Develop and document the overall software component design and accompanying algorithms.
  PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a prototype capability for insertion into a realistic NCO Command and Control (C2) scenario. One of the key sub-goals of phase two will be to establish performance criteria and metrics for the large scale network-centric hybrid human automation system that allows automated vulnerability detection and mitigation, as well as techniques for system tuning to desirable performance outcomes. The prototype will implement best of breed algorithms in the architectural approach investigated in Phase I, using C2 scenario that should be suitable for Network Centric Operations. The Phase II deliverables will include a software prototype and documentation describing the potential performance criteria

  PHASE III: Integrate the capability developed in Phase II into an appropriate Battle Command application. During this phase, the capability needs to clearly demonstrate an ability to meaningfully and quantitatively reduce the cognitive demands on a decision maker or a collaborative team of decision makers operating within the confines of the net-centric environment. The end-state of such a capability would be a Network Centric Warfare (NCW) software service or application that reduces a commander and/or his staff’s cognitive burden during mission planning or execution. This could be used in a commercial environment for emergency response situations where decisions must be made quickly. The topic will be linked to ATO R.ARL.2009.05 THINK.

  References:   1. Title: Command and Control in a Network Centric Environment, Personal Author: No data available Corporate Author: NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI, Page Count: 22 page(s), Report Date: 05 FEB 2001

Keywords:  Network, information, decision, dynamic, collaboration, decision making, distributed

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