Testing the Usability of a Decision-Support System for Increasing Environmental Awareness

Danczyk, J., Jacobs, P., Montgomery, O., Jenkins, M., and Farry, M.

Presented at the 2017 IEEE Conference on Cognitive and Computational Aspects of Situation Management (CogSIMA), Savannah, GA (March 2017)

Military facility managers must track repeated contaminant release that occurs from scheduled training exercises to mitigate the effects of those releases before negative effects occur. Training facility managers are tasked with analyzing the accrual of contamination to their facility grounds, understanding the potential for contaminant transport, and planning future mitigation to remove documented contamination. To provide greater awareness to facility managers of the complex contaminant behavior and effects to the environment, we have developed a decision-support system (DSS) that assists facility managers with both tracking the environment quality and contaminant accrual and allows them to select proper mitigation exercises. During the design phase of our DSS, we conducted a usability test to identify breakdowns within the DSS’s design and workflow to direct the future design and capabilities of the application. Our informal usability test consisted of creating a hypothetical use-case backed by a realistic scenario, tasks for our participants to complete, and implementing our static design mockups into an interactive, high-fidelity prototyping environment to simulate the intended functionality of the software. Participants consisted of a mixture of internal company employees including several software usability experts. The results of our usability test showed a mixture of low-level and high-level opportunities for design enhancements regarding the layout and organization of information included within individual tools and capabilities. We have made revisions on the design and plan to conduct additional usability tests with active duty and/or civilian facility managers to further enhance the usability and usefulness of this DSS application.

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