Design for Intelligence Analysis: Understanding Users, User Tasks, and Tool Usage

Team Members: Youn-ah Kang, Carsten Gorg, John Stasko

   Characterizing the intelligence analysis process through a longitudinal field study: Implications for visual analytics - Information Visualization, 2014
   Visual Analytics Support for Intelligence Analysis - IEEE Computer 2013
   Characterizing the Intelligence Analysis Process: Informing Visual Analytics Design through a Longitudinal Field Study - VAST 2011
   How Can Visual Analytics Assist Investigative Analysis? Design Implications from an Evaluation - TVCG 2011
   Evaluating Visual Analytics Systems for Investigative Analysis: Deriving Design Principles from a Case Study - VAST 2009

Current visual analytics research focuses on systems and techniques rather than identifying how users work and how systems could benefit them. In order to bridge a gap between systems built and real world practices, it is important to understand users and their work processes, identifying leverage points for technology. The intelligence analysis community in particular has not been fully examined in the visual analytics research. While intelligence analysts are one of the major target users for which visual analytics systems are built, little research starts with understanding them and we still know relatively little about their work processes and practices.

For better use and appropriation of tools, the community needs research studies that yield design implications from empirical findings. As a first step, this research project aims to understand work processes and practices of intelligence analysts from a broader point of view and to identify where and how visual analytics tools can assist their tasks. Based on findings from empirical studies, we ultimately seek to suggest design implications for the intelligence analysis process that can be used for both designing and evaluating future visual analytics systems.

We take two approaches in conducting research studies: (1) observing domain users and their current work practices regardless of the use of any specific systems and (2) examining how people perform analysis using a visual analytics tool to determine the kind of features and characteristics such tools need to support.