Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator Group Charter

The mission of the Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator Group, part of the Incubator Activity, is to determine the requirements, use cases, and a representation of decisions and decision-making in a collaborative and networked environment suitable for leading to a potential standard for decision exchange, shared situational awareness, and measurement of the speed, effectiveness, and human factors of decision-making.

Join the Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator Group.

End date 10 March 2011
Confidentiality Proceedings are public
Initial Chairs Jeff Waters, Don McGarry
Initiating Members
Usual Meeting Schedule Teleconferences: Every two weeks
Face-to-face: Once Annually


Everyone makes important decisions in the daily accomplishment of their duties. The aggregate of these decisions constitutes the current state of their organization, and charts the course for our future direction and progress. In a sense, our decisions represent individuals and the organizations they represent. The effective representation, management, evaluation, and sharing of these decisions determines the success of the enterprise. Especially in a distributed, self-organizing, networked environment where digital media are the main interaction between members, distribution and tracking of decisions is particularly important for understanding what others are doing. Our decisions serve as information-work products; both as inputs and outputs. We use others decisions as references and our decisions become references to the decision process of others. The significant time and effort we spend converting our decisions into work products such as briefs, papers, proposals, and communication of our decisions in meetings, teleconferences, conversations, and emails, could be recaptured if we had a standard concise format for representing and sharing our decisions. Our tools could be instrumented to generate our decisions in a format that could be shared and also track the state of decisions within the decision-making process. Instrumentation could support the development of a metric of decision flow and help us understand and optimize our decision processes across our organization or enterprise. Visibility of the decisions in their formation and evolution would enable proactive management and assistance from others.

For these reasons, the members of the Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator are exploring and determining the requirements, use cases, and a potential standard format for representing our decisions efficiently and effectively in a collaborative networked environment for the purpose of information exchange for situational awareness. The Emergency Data Exchange Language Common Alerting Protocol (EDXL-CAP) family of standards is an example of the type and style of information exchange formats which are simple, useful, and understandable. What EDXL-CAP did for alerts, a common decision exchange protocol should do for decisions. However, to reach its full potential, the proposed decision format must be extended by the Semantic Web tools and standards to provide semantic interoperability and to provide a basis for reasoning that can ease development of advanced applications. Simplicity and understandability of decisions is particularly important in distributed, dynamic settings such as emergency management.

The work performed by this incubator activity is designed to help organizations improve integration of human decisions into computer systems, to digitally track and manage the decision-making process, to enable improved information-flow metrics, to maintain an archive of the decisions and the decision-making process, to enable semi-automation of certain decision-making processes, to improve information sharing, and ultimately, to support better, rapid, and agile decision making.

The potential standard format should provide concise, generic, structured assessments and decisions that allow "drill down," support pedigree and confidence, enable approvals and vetting, define options considered, including decision criteria with weighting, links to previous decisions and sub-decisions, and support flexible structuring of complex decisions.

Success Criteria

A goal of the incubator group is to illustrate the importance and benefit of semantic standards in a domain (decision-making) relevant to a large set of users who may not fully understand or appreciate how these standards can help them. The group will document requirements and use cases in a final report on the wiki and especially will document an ontology and representation that can be demonstrated effectively in one or more tools for interfacing for important and relevant use cases.

In Scope

In short, the goal of the incubator is to provide an understanding and insight in the area of decisions and decision-making for Semantic Web technologies, development and potential standardization. This includes:

  • Developing requirements for representing decision information
  • Developing use cases for context and reasoning about decisions
  • Identifying issues and challenges in decision-making that are of direct concern
  • Developing ontology or ontology components and representation of decisions and decision-making as a first-cut to help explain and motivate iterative progress
  • Encouraging the instrumentation of appropriate tools with the ontology components and representations to explore effectiveness

Out of Scope

Areas of importance to, but not directly a substantive component of, generic decisions or decision processes are out of scope, such as transport protocol, encryption, and authentication.


The group will maintain a wiki site containing relevant information. The deliverables will be a final report, a potential standard ontology, examples, and potentially prototype tools using the ontology. The vision of the final report outline includes: introduction, background and need, scope, use cases, requirements, issues & challenges, ontological patterns & solutions, sample decision ontology, representation formats, examples, candidate tools for instrumentation, examples, recommendations, and conclusion. In case the group decides that a particular technology is ripe for further standardization at the W3C, the group will consider preparing a W3C member submission and/or propose a W3C group charter to be considered by the W3C.


W3C Groups

All of the semantic working groups are doing important work which this working group should take into consideration; specifically the group will reach out to liaison with:

External Groups

In the area of decisions for emergency management, the group will reach out to and liaison with:


It is envisioned that this group will teleconference fortnightly at a time that provides an adequate compromise over the various time zones of the interested participants. Extensive work will be carried out by using preferably the wiki but also with the mailing list. Additionally, it may be useful to have an optional face-to-face meeting at a venue for which a significant number of participants are likely to attend.

Expected participation follows the W3C Process Document discussion of Good Standing.


This group primarily conducts its work on the public mailing list public-xg-decision@w3.org (archive). The group's Member-only list is member-xg-decision@w3.org (archive)

Information about the group (deliverables, participants, face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, etc.) is available from the Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator Group home page.

Decision Policy

As explained in the Process Document (section 3.3), this group will seek to make decisions when there is consensus. When the Chair puts a question and observes dissent, after due consideration of different opinions, the Chair should record a decision (possibly after a formal vote) and any objections, and move on.

Patent Policy

This Incubator Group provides an opportunity to share perspectives on the topic addressed by this charter. W3C reminds Incubator Group participants of their obligation to comply with patent disclosure obligations as set out in Section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy. While the Incubator Group does not produce Recommendation-track documents, when Incubator Group participants review Recommendation-track specifications from Working Groups, the patent disclosure obligations do apply.

Incubator Groups have as a goal to produce work that can be implemented on a Royalty Free basis, as defined in the W3C Patent Policy.

Participants agree to offer patent licenses according to the W3C Royalty-Free licensing requirements described in Section 5 of the W3C Patent Policy for any portions of the XG Reports produced by this XG that are subsequently incorporated into a W3C Recommendation produced by a Working Group which is chartered to take the XG Report as an input. This licensing commitment may not be revoked but may be modified through the Exclusion process defined in Section 4 of the Patent Policy.

Participants in this Incubator Group wishing to exclude essential patent claims from the licensing commitment must join the Working Group created to work on the XG Report and follow the normal exclusion procedures defined by the Patent Policy. The W3C Team is responsible for notifying all Participants in this Incubator Group in the event that a new Working Group is proposed to develop a Recommendation that takes the XG Report as an input.

For more information about disclosure obligations for this group, please see the W3C Patent Policy Implementation.

About this Charter

This charter for the Decisions and Decision-Making Incubator Group has been created according to the Incubator Group Procedures documentation. In the event of a conflict between this document or the provisions of any charter and the W3C Process, the W3C Process shall take precedence.

Jeff Waters (DISA), Don McGarry (MITRE), and Eva Blomqvist (CNR)

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