Broad range of papers focus on intelligence analysis, driver safety, patient safety, etc.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 51st Annual Meeting will be held October 1 -- 5, 2007, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. More than 350 papers will be presented, many of them featuring current research and application on topics of major relevance for the public, legislators, and business leaders. Below are abstracts on just a few of these topics.

INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS/NATIONAL SECURITY

Visual Evidence Landscapes: Reducing Bias in Collaborative Intelligence Analysis
Maia B. Cook and Harvey S. Smallman, Pacific Science and Engineering Group
Thursday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.--12:00 noon

In medical, military, and business decision-making, several key tasks include analyzing, making sense of, and carefully weighing ambiguous and conflicting evidence. Confirmation bias -- the tendency to seek out information that supports a particular hypothesis while ignoring or minimizing contrary information -- can lead to poor decision making by maintaining a position even though it might not be warranted based on the available information. Cook and Smallman studied two new approaches -- using graphics rather than text to list supporting or refuting evidence and shared analysis rather than individual interpretation of evidence -- in this study of collaborative intelligence analysis. Their results have implications for the design of systems that help to reduce bias.

Judging Sufficiency: How Professional Intelligence Analysts Assess Analytical Rigor
Daniel J. Zelik, Ohio State University, et al.
Thursday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.--12:00 noon

Information analysts use rigor to assess the quality of the process, rather than the product, of analysis. Zelik and colleagues researched accident reports and found that intelligence analysis managers were unaware that they were making decisions based on analyses that appeared thorough on the surface but that were of very low rigor. The researchers' results offer insights into the expertise of the professional intelligence analyst.

Exploring Challenges of Information Dynamics Using an Animock
Shilo Anders, Ohio State University, et al.
Thursday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.--12:00 noon

Applying new information to existing problems is an ongoing challenge in intelligence analysis. The animated prototyping technique, or animock, uses dynamic storyboarding to represent a potential envisioned world. Anders and colleagues explored the use of animocks in solving challenging problems for which no current software support exists: Namely, applying default assumptions that do not apply to the case, repeating inaccurate information in original documents, and repeating information that was once considered accurate but was later overturned as new information became available.

Team Cognition in Intelligence Analysis
Stoney Trent, U.S. Military Academy, et al.
Thursday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.--12:00 noon

Although intelligence analysis has been the focus of much research since 2001, insufficient emphasis has been placed on examinations of team cognition in the performance of analytical tasks, or in developing effective training strategies for analysts. Trent and colleagues investigate the effectiveness of teams in a training exercise and, based on these results, suggest strategies for improving performance and training for intelligence analysts.

Human Factors Contributes to Queuing Theory: Parkinson's Law and Security Screening
Colin G. Drury, University of Buffalo at SUNY, et al.
Friday, October 5, 8:30 -- 10:00 a.m.

According to Parkinson's law, "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." It has been found that those who provide a service may change their behavior in response to the length of the line (queue) of waiting customers. Servers work faster as the queue length increases, which has clear implications for service quality. Drury and colleagues consider one queuing situation with high visibility and high error consequence: security screening at an airport.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Lessons Learned From the Design of the Decision Support System Used in the Hurricane Katrina Evacuation Decision
Alex Kirlik, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Wednesday, October 3, 1:30 -- 3:00 p.m.

Computer-based decision support systems are increasingly used to aid human decision makers in time-stressed and high-stakes contexts. Hurricane Katrina is a prime example. The HURREVAC decision-support system used during Hurricane Katrina was evaluated using real-time screen shots of the graphical and numerical information that was displayed to emergency response managers. At 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 26, 2005, the HURREVAC system indicated an evacuation decision would have to be made by daybreak the following morning. However, the system only indicates when a decision should be made; it offers little if any support as to what that decision should be. In fact, HURREVAC users at locations across the entire gulf coast, from Florida to Texas, were also viewing evacuation advisories that assumed a worst-case scenario of "direct hit." Advances in information technology and real-time networking represent significant improvements, but design deficiencies still persist.

Assessing the Impact of Computerization on Work Practice: Information Technology in Emergency Departments
Priyadarshini R. Pennathur, University of Buffalo at SUNY, et al.
Thursday, October 4, 3:30 -- 5:00 p.m.

Electronic status boards used for tracking patients in hospital emergency rooms, while offering advantages over dry-erase boards, are shown to decreases flexibility and increase workload, indirectly creating new safety risks. Pennathur and colleagues documented a negative impact on communication due to limits in information display, levels of urgency not given appropriate weight, decreased visual cues, longer time required to assess care situation upon entering the emergency room, and other factors.

AVIATION SAFETY

The Effects of Direct Pilot Warnings on the Prevention of Runway Incursions
Kathleen McGarry and Peter Moertl, MITRE/CAASD
Thursday, October 4, 3:30 -- 5:00 p.m.

The effectiveness of integrated ground-based warning systems for improved runway safety was evaluated using a human-in-the-loop simulation. These systems enable enhanced pilot awareness and warn pilots about runway safety risks. Results show that ground-based pilot warnings offer significant benefits by reducing the likelihood of runway incursions.

DESIGN FOR THE AGING AND DISABLED

A Survey of Mobile Phone Use in Older Adults
Young Seok Lee, Virginia Tech
Tuesday, October 2, 1:30 -- 3:00 p.m.

More and more older adults are using mobile phones. Lee conducted a survey of older cell phone users and found that most usability problems involve lack of understanding of error messages, problems inputting text, and difficulty understanding user manuals. He concludes that mobile phone manufacturers need to focus on the needs and capabilities of this growing older user population.

Testing a Novel Auditory Interface Display to Enable Visually Impaired Travelers to Use Sonar Mobility Devices Effectively
T. Claire Davies, University of Waterloo, et al.
Thursday, October 4, 8:30 -- 10:00 a.m.

After loss of vision, people have difficulty maintaining their independence and mobility, which ultimately affects their safety. Sonar devices have been developed to address this issue, but they have had limited acceptance, because they lack an easily interpreted interface. Davies and colleagues tested an auditory prototype that offers offer more environmental information than the current single tone design, thus providing the user with enough advance information to avoid obstacles.

PRODUCT/SYSTEM USABILITY

Digital Photo Kiosk Evaluation
Jacob Solomon and Frank A. Drews, University of Utah
Thursday, October 4, 10:30 a.m. -- 12:00 noon

Self-service modules have become an integral part of the economy throughout the world, replacing expensive human operators in many settings. Digital photo kiosks are a particularly conspicuous example of problems that exist in self-service modules. Solomon and Drew redesigned kiosks based on sound usability principles. Their results indicated a reduction of errors, an increase in learnability, and an increase in efficiency.

They suggest that incorporating design principles from personal computer software design can minimize task complexity and increase usability.

An Evaluation of Self-Checkout Systems
Christina Mendat, HumanCentric Technologies; Christopher B. Mayhorn, North Carolina State University
Thursday, October 4, 8:30 -- 10:00 a.m.

Self-checkout systems in stores have increased exponentially in the past 5 years. An online survey found that although these systems are used frequently, they are not always usable. For example, respondents noted problems with barcode scanning, which slow the line. Mendat and Mayhorn highlighted a number of areas in which the application of human factors/ergonomics methods and principles could greatly improve self-checkout systems.

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Click here to view the online preliminary program, which displays abstracts and presentation date and time.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in September 2007, is a multidisciplinary professional association of more than 4,700 persons in the United States and throughout the world. Its members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them. HFES is the largest human factors/ergonomics organization affiliated with the International Ergonomics Association.

Source: Lois Smith
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

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