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Using Cognitive Task Analysis and Eye Tracking to Understand Imagery Analysis

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The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency NGA is the national-level producer of Geospatial Intelligence, serving both policy makers and DoD elements. One core task of Geospatial Intelligence Analysts is to develop intelligence through the exploitation of imagery including overhead, airborne, and video sources, with geospatial data and additional intelligence sources supporting the analysis process. Currently there is a gap between the exploitation and analysis capabilities of senior analysts and incoming junior analysts. Some expert knowledge is not well documented or institutionalized, creating a barrier to knowledge transfer either through classroom training or on-the-job learning. To begin addressing these concerns, we conducted a study of analysts performing a realistic area search task. In a collaborative effort, we have worked with the NGAProduction organization and they have provided us with analysts to support the project. One outcome of this work is a structured knowledge representation of the goals and the search strategies that analysts use in the process of solving typical Geospatial Intelligence Analysis problems. Furthermore, by studying analysts with a range of experience, from novice to expert, we have identified strategies that are typically associated with expert performance and that less experienced analysts may need help to develop. We have also recorded the eye movements and tool usage of analysts during imagery search and have used these to study the analysts search behavior in detail.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Cartography and Aerial Photography
  • Military Intelligence

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