The Impact of Meta-Information on Decision-Making in Intelligence Operations

Pfautz, J., Fouse, A., Fichtl, T., Bisantz, A., Roth, E. Madden, S.

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 49th Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (September, 2005)

Decision-making in complex, dynamic, high-risk environments is clearly challenging. Part of this challenge is due to the presence of qualifiers of information, or meta-information (e.g., staleness, uncertainty, source), that alter a person’s information processing, situational awareness, and decision-making. We investigated the influence of meta-information on decision-making in a Military Intelligence Operations (IO) environment using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) techniques. We performed a CTA on IO tasks surrounding the use of smart sensor webs, a relatively new technology that can be used for a variety of IO purposes. Our analysis addressed information management tasks and tactical decision-making tasks using sensor webs. We discovered that a variety of types of meta-information significantly impacted decision-making, and that the influence of meta-information was both context- and task- sensitive. In this paper, we present the results of the CTA and discuss the implications for the development of decision-aiding systems, including the design of constituent displays, interfaces, and automated systems.

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