The Role of Meta-Information in C2 Decision-Support Systems

Pfautz, J., Roth, E., Bisantz, A., Thomas-Meyers, G., Llinas, J., & Fouse, A.

Proceedings of the Command and Control Research and Technology Symposium, San Diego, CA (June, 2006)

Command and control (C2) in complex, dynamic, high-risk warfighting environments is clearly challenging, particularly because of the increasing complexity of available technology for processing and presenting information. Commanders need to understand and act on large volumes of information from a variety of sources and are particularly challenged by the need to reason about the qualifiers of that information, which we will refer to as meta-information (e.g., uncertainty, recency, pedigree). We have explored the role of meta-information in C2 using Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) techniques to identify when and how, in current practice, human interaction with meta-information impacts decision-making, especially when that decision-making is supported by automation. Too often critical meta-information is not processed, ineffectively displayed, or not displayed at all in existing C2 decision-support systems. The result of our analyses is a number of design recommendations for C2 decision-support systems and guidelines for identifying and recognizing the need for meta-information processing and display. In this paper, we present the results of our analyses and discuss their implications with respect to the design of human-system interfaces and the development of computational information processing methods.

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