Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments

University of Washington Hosts Multi-Jurisdictional Exercise

November 17, 2010

 

On October 14, the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering hosted over forty crisis managers from around the Puget Sound area for a multi-jurisdictional exercise delivered through an electronic framework for inter-agency collaboration called a Precision Information Environment (PIE). The research team under the leadership of Professor Mark Haselkorn (HCDE), Dr. Jim Wall of Texas A&M's Center for Applied Technology, and Anne Tyler of Truestone LLC has been funded by the Department of Homeland Security to help bring to reality the vision of 'One DHS' that can be promoted through the development and fielding of a PIE. 

Keith Biggers of Texas A&M and Robin Mays, HCDE Graduate Research Assistant, supported the effort. UW’s participation in research on PIE is supported in part by the Center of Excellence on Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments (VACCINE), led by Purdue University.

The exercise included participants from the U.S. Army 833rd Transportation Battalion; US Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound; US Customs and Border Protection; Military Sealift Command; Ports of Tacoma, Seattle, Olympia and Everett; City of Tacoma Police Department; and APM Terminals, Port of Tacoma. A scenario was designed to simulate realistic events that motivate interagency coordination. Participants rehearsed cooperative decision- making as a complicated scenario of mechanical breakdowns, security incidents, and transitions of authority unveiled itself. Participants viewed an interactive map screen which integrated different layers and components of pertinent information. For example at a given moment, a coast guard officer viewed locations of ships at sea, a policeman viewed his security perimeter, and a port security officer viewed a display of the current tides, all perspectives of a common informational framework.

A Precision Information Environment (PIE) is a vehicle for integrating and delivering specific, usable information tailored to participants’ roles, organizations and situations in a security and emergency response community. The framework supports security community interactions by situating shared information within the planning, communicating and decision-making structure of first responders, policy makers, and the public.

Professor Mark Haselkorn explained: "What makes this technology next generation is that it not only supports a common situational awareness, but also creates an environment that supports the way a given community chooses to work together. This is especially needed for the effective distributed collaborative decision making that is crucial for achieving regional security and resilience." The PIE used in the UW exercise employs a dashboard design to enable individuals to configure and tailor the screen and its information components to meet his or her ever-changing information needs as a situation evolves. It also features electronic information and decision support capabilities that adapt to the varying users and phases of emergency management.

 

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