Work-Centered Support Systems: A Human-Centered Approach to Intelligent System Design

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<ul><li><p>MARCH/APRIL 2005 1541-1672/05/$20.00 2005 IEEE 73Published by the IEEE Computer Society</p><p>H u m a n - C e n t e r e d C o m p u t i n g</p><p>Work-CenteredSupport Systems: A Human-CenteredApproach to IntelligentSystem DesignRonald Scott, BBN Technologies</p><p>Emilie M. Roth, Roth Cognitive Engineering</p><p>Stephen E. Deutsch, Erika Malchiodi, and Thomas E. Kazmierczak, BBN Technologies</p><p>Robert G. Eggleston and Samuel R. Kuper, Air Force Research Laboratory</p><p>Randall D. Whitaker, Northrop Grumman Information Technology</p><p>Ahallmark of human-centered computing (HCC) is its focus on domain practi-tioners and their field of practice.1,2 Human-centered design depends on a deepanalysis of a fields cognitive and collaborative demands and how people work individu-</p><p>ally, in groups, and in organizations to meet those demands.3,4 The objective is to leverage</p><p>what we know about human cognitive and collabo-rative processes to create systems that optimize theaffordances (direct perception of meanings) andeffectivities (knowledge-driven actions) for humans.5</p><p>We developed a software-agent-based system forweather forecasting and monitoring that exemplifiesthe HCC approach and demonstrates work-centeredsupport systems concepts.68 The WCSS paradigmoffers an approach for incorporating software agenttechnology in a manner that helps the user keep his orher head in the work and reduces the possibilitythat software agent states or actions will surprise theuser. To date, software-agent technology has focusedlargely on increased autonomy of individual softwareagents and increased coordination of activity amongmultiple software agents.9 As the technology matures,we need to focus on how to integrate agents intoteams that include both humans and agents and howbest to deploy agents to support human work.10,11</p><p>Work-centered support systemsA distinguishing characteristic of WCSSs is that</p><p>they focus on supporting all facets of work. Specif-ically, a WCSS includes</p><p> decision support aiding problem solving and othercognitive work processes,</p><p> product development support aiding deliverablework artifacts production,</p><p> collaborative support aiding team and colleagueinteractions, and</p><p> work management support aiding the metacogni-tive activities entailed in prioritizing and manag-ing multiple intertwined work activities (such asrequirements for attention shift and rememberingthe number and state of tasks in process).</p><p>A WCSS attempts to integrate support for each ofthese areas through the principle of joint aidingthecoordinated use of direct and indirect aiding methodswithin a common, work-centered ontology.7 A coor-dinated set of software agents that interact with theuser and are clearly connected to or embedded inwork domain visualizations provide direct aiding.</p><p>The Work-Centered</p><p>Support System</p><p>approach to human-</p><p>centered computing</p><p>focuses on analyzing</p><p>and supporting the</p><p>multiple facets of work.</p><p>The WCSS for Global</p><p>Weather Management,</p><p>developed to support</p><p>weather forecasting</p><p>and monitoring in an</p><p>airlift service</p><p>organization,</p><p>exemplifies this</p><p>approach.</p></li><li><p>Indirect aiding is provided largely throughthe creation of work domain visualizationsthat reveal domain relationships, constraints,and affordances. By emphasizing the need tosupport all facets of work and to providedirect and indirect aiding, the WCSS para-digm falls squarely within the HCC tradition.</p><p>Designing a WCSSWe developed the Work-Centered Support</p><p>System for Global Weather Management(WCSS-GWM) to support weather forecast-ing and monitoring in a military airlift ser-vice organization. Building a WCSS requiresa development process that grounds systemrequirements in a deep understanding of thecognitive and collaborative demands of thework domain. We achieved this through closecollaboration among cognitive and softwareengineers and end-user domain practitioners,all of whom were involved from the projectsinception. The collective goal was to under-stand the workspace (work demands andpractices in the environment) and stretchwhat we already knew how to do to build anew work environmenta collaborativeeffort in envisioning, creating, and refininga new workspace.</p><p>Our projects backgroundTraditionally, airlift pilots have been</p><p>responsible for their own flight planning,including obtaining preflight weather brief-ings. The organization we worked with initi-ated a new approach to reduce the amount oftime an aircrew must devote to these tasks.It created a flight manager (FM) positionwith the primary responsibility of planningand managing multiple flights, both preflightand en route. This includes obtaining aweather briefing and providing a completeflight plan to the pilot, including weatherforecast information. The FM is a virtualcrew member who supports the pilot.</p><p>Weather can significantly influence pre-flight and en route flight management deci-sions (for example, accelerating, delaying,or rerouting a flight because of unfavorableweather conditions). So, weather forecastersmust work closely with the FM to evaluateweather conditions at the departure andarrival airfields and along the planned route.We focused on developing an intelligent sys-tem to aid near-term weather forecasting tosupport planning and managing airlifts.</p><p>Cognitive analysisOur WCSS methodology emphasizes</p><p>acquiring an understanding of work as prac-ticed. Field observations and interviewsintended to help us understand the cognitiveand collaborative demands of the domainwere an integral part of our WCSS-GWMdevelopment process.12 We examined workpractices in terms of decision making, prod-uct development, collaboration, and workmanagement activities. These revealedaspects of cognitive and collaborative workthat could be more effectively supported,which then guided the design of the WCSS-GWM architecture and displays.</p><p>We performed three site visits, each twoto three days long and held approximatelytwo months apart. During these visits, weinterviewed forecasters, FMs, and senior per-sonnel to understand workflow and elicit</p><p>examples of the complications that can ariseand increase task demands. We also observedFMs and forecasters as they handled actualflights during planning and en route phasesto identify FM and forecaster activities andsources of complexity that the interviews didnt reveal. We sampled as broad a rangeof domain practitioners and situations aspractical, including interviewing five or sixindividuals during each visit, interviewingindividuals with differing levels of experi-ence and expertise, and conducting observa-tions over several time periods to sample dif-ferent activity rhythms (morning and eveningshifts as well as shift turnovers). Observa-tions spanned routine and challenging cases.They revealed the intensive collaboration thatoccurs between FMs and forecasters whenweather conditions such as severe turbulenceor lack of anticipated tailwind require mod-ification to planned flight routes.</p><p>We presented storyboards (rapidly devel-oped prototypes) to FMs and forecasters fortheir comments, enabling them to actively par-ticipate in design. The storyboard prototypes</p><p>embodied candidate aiding concepts and dis-played increasing functionality and robustnesswith each site visit, reflecting what wedlearned from the prior visit. They provided aconcrete vehicle to demonstrate our growingunderstanding and to obtain user feedback onthe evolving aiding concepts viability. Theyalso provided a stimulus for raising additionaldomain constraints and complications thatwed need to accommodate.</p><p>A multidisciplinary teamincluding cog-nitive engineers experienced in domainanalysis and user requirements specificationand software engineers who would designand implement the softwareconducted thefield observations and interviews. The par-ticipation of both cognitive and softwareengineers facilitated dialogue among theteam members and enabled close collabora-tion in the specification and design of theWCSS-GWM system architecture and userinterface.</p><p>Workspace and work patternobservations</p><p>Typically, three trained forecasters are onduty each shift in the organization we stud-ied. Two sit in a weather-forecasting roomadjacent to and within sight of the FMsarea,and one sits in the flight management area toprovide collaborative support to the FMs. Theweather-forecasting room includes numerousworkstations, each with two or three CRTs,and several wall-mounted TV monitors andlarge-screen displays that can be slaved tosome of the workstation screens. As a matterof standard practice, the large-screen panelsdisplay loops of weather satellite imagery,focused on geographic regions of interest.They are also used to present weather brief-ings to FMs during shift changes, as well asto support forecaster collaboration.</p><p>The forecasters focus on near-term avia-tion weather forecastingunderstanding andpredicting weather conditions that will affectflights in the air and those scheduled to takeoff in the next 12 hours. Near-term forecast-ing requires acquiring, interpreting, and inte-grating multiple weather data types, includ-ing satellite imagery, airfield and otherobservations (such as pilot reports of turbu-lence), upper-air forecasts, and computermodel projections from local and worldwidesources. These weather data types were typ-ically available to the forecasters from sepa-rate Web pages or map displays, requiringforecasters to mentally integrate informationfrom multiple disparate sources.</p><p>H u m a n - C e n t e r e d C o m p u t i n g</p><p>74 www.computer.org/intelligent IEEE INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS</p><p>By emphasizing the need to</p><p>support all facets of work and to</p><p>provide direct and indirect aiding,</p><p>the WCSS paradigm falls squarely</p><p>within the HCC tradition.</p></li><li><p>In many cases, the available data areincomplete, ambiguous, stale, or conflicting.Weather-forecasting expertise includes theabilities to look for convergence among mul-tiple data types (to check that things are lin-ing up) and pursue additional sources of evi-dence to fill in missing data or resolveambiguous or conflicting data. For example,a forecaster can increase confidence in a fore-cast by checking with a location in a pre-dicted storms path to confirm that the stormhas materialized. Similarly, the forecaster canincrease confidence in a turbulence predic-tion by checking certain kinds of satelliteimagery and seeking pilot reports (PIREPs)confirming actual conditions.</p><p>We observed several cases where fore-casters had to reconcile conflicting forecasts,including cases where the forecaster neededto call the forecasts source to understand thebasis for a prediction. In at least one case, theforecaster had to advocate an alternative fore-cast. Being able to resolve ambiguous or con-flicting weather data is critical because pre-dicting severe weather has risk/benefitconsequences. Being too conservative canmean serious delays or cancelled missions;being insufficiently conservative can result incostly mission diversions, plane damage, oreven risk to life. To minimize the impact onmission objectives, forecasters are sensitive toboth of these concerns and work intensely torefine their forecasts and communicate to FMsthe basis of and level of confidence in weatherpredictions. They must also identify ways towork around real or anticipated weather haz-ardsfor example, by selecting alternate take-off or landing airfields or changing the takeofftime or flight route.</p><p>Our analysis revealed that FMs and fore-casters operate as a team to manage the air-lift missions in their work queue. The FM isthe primary player, constructing flight plans,preparing crew papers, and monitoring themany details involved in ensuring each mis-sions success. The forecasters engaged inmultiple activities:</p><p> maintaining situational awareness ofweather conditions in multiple geographicregions worldwide,</p><p> preparing general forecasts for theseregions and tailored forecasts for each mis-sion,</p><p> responding to requests and providingtimely weather data to various parties inthe organization (including pilots who callfor weather updates),</p><p> monitoring weather observations to assesstheir effects on current and upcoming missions,</p><p> helping FMs develop options for workingaround hazardous weather to minimize itsimpact on mission goals, and</p><p> negotiating with other weather-forecast-ing organizations regarding the appropri-ate interpretation of ambiguous weatherdata and advocating particular weatherinterpretations.</p><p>FMs and forecasters worked collabora-tively to understand the consequences ofunexpected situations (such as changing mis-sion requirements or weather conditions) anddetermine appropriate action (such as delay-</p><p>ing or rerouting a flight or changing the fuelload or cargo).</p><p>Identifying leverage pointsopportunities to provide support</p><p>Our analysis identified a number of lever-age points or opportunities to more effec-tively support weather forecasting and mon-itoring. This provided the basis for definingwork-centered support requirements.</p><p>Decision support. Forecasters can use sup-port in collating and integrating informationfrom multiple, disparate aviation weathersources, including forecasts, satellite imagery,real-time weather updates, and particularlyflight plans for current and near-term flights.This can be accomplished by integrating themultiple weather sources on a single georef-erenced map.13 Providing an integrated visu-alization enables forecasters to more quicklyderive and update a situation model of sig-nificant weather factors in their geographicareas of responsibility. This supports the gen-</p><p>eral requirement for forecasters to achieveand maintain weather-related situationalawareness so that they can make sound deci-sions. An integrated visualization providesmore effective support for the cognitivelychallenging aspects of forecasting: identify-ing converging evidence in support of a fore-cast and identifying and resolving ambigu-ous or conflicting information.</p><p>Product development. The process by whichforecasters update and revise forecasts islabor intensive, so they dont update them asoften as theyd like. Tools that enable morerapid recognition of changes in weather con-ditions and production of revised forecastswould enhance both forecasts accuracy andtimeliness.</p><p>Collaboration support. The forecaster-FMteam needs collaborative support in evaluat-ing weathers impact on flight plans and mak-ing reroute decisions.Weather and flight infor-mation arent well integrated. The forecasterhas the best access to weather information,and the FM has the best access to plannedand en route flights status. Superimposingweather and flight information (for example,the flight route and organized tracks that con-stitute legal flight path options) on a singlegeoreferenced map that the FM and forecastercan view simultaneously would let them visu-alize the weathers impact on a flight route andcollaboratively formulate reroute options.</p><p>Work management support. Forecastersmust monitor weather conditions in multiplegeographic regions of interest and supportplanning and monitoring of tens of flights.Notifying the forecaster and...</p></li></ul>

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