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Air Force Research Lab tests new program
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kristin Spencer, 711th Human Performance Wing behavioral scientist, watches a video for suspicious behavior during a demonstration of a new Enhanced Reporting, Narrative Event Streaming Tool developed by the Air Force Research Lab, Oct. 15, 2014, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The program aims to make intelligence analyst’s jobs easier by streamlining some of their routine tasks which could enable to them save more lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wesley Farnsworth)
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New application aims to improve analyst's performance

Posted 10/23/2014   Updated 10/23/2014 Email story   Print story


by Wesley Farnsworth
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/23/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE. Ohio -- Members from Air Force Research Laboratory's Panning & Direction, Collection, Processing and Exploitation, Analysis and Production, and Dissemination - Experimental (PCPAD-X) team collaborated to create a new tool suite which could be used by the Air Force intelligence community around the globe.

The team, which includes subject matter experts from the Human Effectiveness Directorate, Sensors Directorate, Information Directorate and countless educational and industry partners from around the country, have produced ERNEST, which stands for Enhanced Reporting, Narrative Event Streaming Tool. ERNEST is an integrated compilation of many different tools such as a video player, speech to text program, slide maker and chat program. ERNEST is designed to streamline many of the intelligence analyst's routine tasks.

With the program now completed members of the PCPAD-X team brought in analysts from various bases around the United States to the team's offices at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to provided critical feedback to team members.

To get the tool suite program to its current point took thousands of hours of research and collaboration by AFRL directorates as well as educational and industry partners.

According to Dr. Daniel Zelik, a senior cognitive systems engineer with the 711th Human Performance Wing's Human Analyst Augmentation Branch, some of that research included visiting work centers where ERNEST would be used.

"In the development of this software we visited at least five different bases and interviewed hundreds of different analysts to get a good understanding on how they perform their job," Zelik said. "This enabled us to have confidence that we are developing the software that it is grounded in how analysts actually do their job."

One of the key goals for ERNEST is to embed the new technology and streamline some of the analyst's tasks so that together they produce better products.

"This allowed us to perform an apple to apple comparison to our envisioned concept [for the software] to how the analysts would actually use it [in their work centers]," Zelik said.

According to David Shahady, branch chief for the Human Analyst Augmentation Branch, team members also were looking to see how the ERNEST program affected the workload and cognition by using various wearable physiological sensors.

"During this testing we were able to measure things like the analysts respiration rate, heart rate and where they looked at the screen, which enabled us to see not only how the analysts interacted with the program but also how it had a physical effect on them as well," Shahady said.

With the first initial testing of the new software completed and more tests scheduled to run in the coming weeks, the team will compile all the data to make changes where appropriate.  In turn, helping to make the analyst's jobs easier and enabling them to potentially save more lives.

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