Scratchpad: Lightweight Data Capture Tools to Support Mission Planning

Kane, S., von Kelsch, E., Muller, C., and Hogan, C.

Presented at the 19th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (HCII 2017), Vancouver, Canada (July 2017)

Powerful tools are available to support the mission planning process. Although these tools provide support to multiple components, they do not support the dynamic nature of the process over time. Pilots cannot capture key data elements to reference across mission planning UI components and have no system support for documenting pending actions on them. To address these shortcomings, we have developed a software component for collecting referenced data elements and to support the recording of associated actionable items. In this paper, we present our overall approach and solution addressing the need for lightweight data capture to better support the mission planning process.

First, we observed Navy fighter pilots during training events including end-to-end mission planning, execution, and the after action review process. During these training events, we observed pilots recording data on their hands or paper for later reference, frequently including high precision values. This is problematic during the precise mission planning process as it introduced potential for human error and the notes themselves are prone to becoming altered or lost. To address these challenges lightweight object capture methods are needed for use across the mission planning process. Furthermore, pilots had frequent questions during the process, which would interrupt their current activities waiting for resolution. To overcome this shortfall, pilots sometimes would input egregiously invalid values as a reminder to come back to the point later. This approach is problematic due to the high potential for these egregiously invalid data values to flow forward through the system. As a result, better methods are needed to formally flag components as questions arise.

In this paper, we describe our literature review on note-taking and list-making in context of task management, as both attempt to solve similar problems of storing lightweight information. Notes can be highly relevant to specific tasks, have reminders associated with them, or act as a safe spot for information that needs to be referenced later (Min, Lutters, Kim 2004). List-making refers to recording cues for incomplete tasks (Bellotti et al, 2004). Themes among successful task management systems include convenient placement of task-related information (González, Mark 2004), continuously visible to-do items (Bellotti, Ducheneaut, Howard 2003), and flexible task representation, as they “may be represented at any level of abstraction or detail” (Bellotti et al, 2004). Commercial systems were also reviewed, including Wunderlist, Google Keep, and Microsoft OneNote. These utilized a broad range of flexible approaches to list and note-making.

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