June 19, 2007 As we pointed out last week, the science of building an effective team is often overlooked but we’re pleased to note the release of some new software designed to forge a highly functional team when the job is mission critical. Aptima’s DDD 4.0 is simulation software for military and civilian organizations involved in planning and preparing for complex team-based missions. A desktop software application, DDD is unique in its ability to cover a wide range of scenarios, including AWACS air battle management, civilian disaster response, search and rescue, Joint Task Force command decision-making, and business management. A 30-day, fully functional evaluation copy can be downloaded here
The result of a 15-year research program on human behavioral modeling, DDD’s development has been funded in part by several government agencies, including the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Army Research Institute (ARI), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). DDD models the core functions that drive team performance in critical, time-sensitive situations, such as communicating, sharing resources, making decisions, and coordinating tasks.
DDD was developed to serve both as a research and planning platform to explore alternate ways for conducting team-related activities, and also as a training and rehearsal platform to prepare teams for success in real-world missions. Embedded within DDD are tools that capture and quantify team performance to help team members improve their skills and help planners increase mission effectiveness. As a networked application, DDD lets geographically distributed team members interact as if they were all in the same location.
DDD supports training and rehearsal applications in a variety of domains. Law and business schools, for example, use DDD to teach negotiation and conflict resolution skills. In one such training scenario, automotive planning managers learn how to deal with foreign competition, production, and workforce issues. Medical schools use DDD to conduct disaster preparedness exercises. The US Air Force uses DDD to train networked teams in Air Operations Centers, preparing them to track, fix, and organize strikes on enemy targets.
The research community has also found inventive uses for DDD’s modeling capabilities. “DDD goes beyond a highly flexible desktop trainer,” notes Dr. Wayne Shebilske of Wright State University, a subcontracting lab for the Air Force Research Laboratory and other government agencies. “By replicating the skills and interactions between humans and computer systems, such as in a dynamic targeting cell, DDD is helping to develop new visual displays and information dashboards. We can incrementally improve these technologies quickly in a lab setting without the huge expense of building prototypes and placing lives at risk in the field under real conditions.”
In another DDD research application, General Dynamics is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory to investigate the impact of technology-mediated collaboration on the performance of local and distributed air battle management teams. Benjamin Knott, Ph.D., of General Dynamics stated “DDD has been invaluable in providing the ideal balance between simulation fidelity and experimental control given our criteria of cost, complexity, and ease of development.”
“One of many significant challenges of this research is the necessity to develop valid simulations of air combat while simultaneously maintaining experimental control,” Knott explained. “Using DDD has allowed us the flexibility to build controlled tactical environments, with important capabilities such as manipulation of the number of friendly and hostile aircraft, changes in trajectories, timing, capabilities and uncertainty associated with various entities.”
A key feature that distinguishes DDD from many current simulation technologies is its flexibility in modeling. Unlike simulators that are limited to a fixed application, DDD gives customers the ability to create and modify their own virtual environments and operating scenarios. Mission planners, trainers, and researchers can modify operational roles, mission resources (weapons, fuel, troop strength, and other assets) and objectives to simulate realistic and challenging team activities.