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Decision Usage Scenarios

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Usage Scenarios

The following usage scenarios express idealized situations where we envision that a standard decision representation could in the future be useful and support functionalities that are today poorly supported, from a user perspective.

Selecting Among Alternatives

Sarah is trying to select a city to visit on her vacation. She has a limited time and budget and a specific geographic region she is planning to visit. She has access to a variety of web resources describing the cities, their amenities, museums and schedules. Many of these resources are available as Linked Open Data so she knows she can browse and query the datasets through various Semantic Web applications, but she'd like to organize her decision and decision-making process. Sarah therefore uses a web interface to help her make the decision. First, she starts a new decision process, specifying the title, the question she is trying to answer, and candidate datasets that might support her decision are presented for her consideration. She reviews the properties describing each of the cities and she selects key properties that she wants to use as her metrics for rating the cities, and specifies any maximum or minimum values. The cities are now filtered to remove any that are outside of her range of values and are ordered based on her weighted metrics.

Sarah can now select from the choices presented. Her decision, including the question, answer, options she considered, and metrics she used can now be saved, archived, and displayed on her calendar, timeline, maps, and shared with her friends on her social networks. Sarah knows her friend Mark recently took a similar trip and she wonders how Mark decided where to visit. Mark has shared his decision, so Sarah can download Mark's metrics and apply them to her decision and see how the specific cities are ranked according to his metrics.

Capturing Expertise

Sue is an expert in her domain with 25 years of experience. Sue is a valuable resource for her organization and her community. She is consulted on a variety of matters and her judgment and assessments are highly valued. Fortunately, her decisions and methods of decision- making are represented in a standardized format which allows those decisions and their components to be archived, searched, reused, and managed on the web. Distributed domain knowledge in the form of existing ontologies and linked data, which provide the context for her decisions, can seamlessly be referenced, represented, and support inferencing in her decisions. Others can review her decision process, how long she spent in certain states of the decision process, what options she considered, what metrics she utilized and how she weighted those metrics. Subdecisions are noted, including times, dates, contributors, and information resources. Her metrics for certain types of decisions, as well as other decision components, can be reused by others. Although Sue will eventually retire, an important portion of her expertise has been captured for the benefit of her organization and community. Additionally, Sue herself will have a record for her own uses and memoirs. Sue also has control over this information, meaning that she can set different access restrictions on parts of her decision information. For instance, her closest co-workers might have access to all the information regarding how she made the decision, while others in the company can only review the actual decision result.

Collaborative Decisions

Soraya is the chair of a working group at a standards organization. She remembers that when she participated in previous working groups, it was difficult for those, other than long-time participants, to understand the issues and their resolution. During the course of email and telecon discussions over a period of months, her working group participants would make many key decisions that impact the form of the final product. It was difficult for non-participants to understand what were the issues, the options, the pros, the cons, and why certain decisions were made. In fact, many users of the eventual standards misused certain components unintentionally because they did not have the background for why the components were created and what questions they were intended to address. Although the discussions would be contained in threaded discussions and meeting minutes, these are difficult to follow in a cohesive manner and it takes significant time to search and track. Even the formal documentation captures only some of the issues and guidance, and few people have time to read the documentation.

Fortunately, Soraya's group now has the ability to capture the decisions, the questions, the options, the pros/cons, the metrics during the meetings and discussions utilizing tools that support the standard decision format. The decisions can be linked, viewed, mapped, and the resolution method noted, along with any dissenting opinions. The decisions are accessible on the web for easy graphical viewing with drill-down, and in a collaborative manner, working group participants can add or comment on components, including adding a new option, comment on a new metric, add a pro or con, suggest a better weighting of the metrics, recommend a subdecision that needs to be made, and collaboratively the decision and decision-making process can be documented and managed. New participants can now quickly get up to speed and since components can be linked to questions, anyone using a component can gain key insights from the original developers of the standard.

Historical Decisions

Adam is a historian focusing on reviewing and considering the decisions made by key leaders of organizations which preceded a man-made disaster. A variety of options were available to each leader as they proceeded. Certain options which should have been considered were not, due to the limitations put on the consideration of what constituted acceptable options. Metrics were used which were not publicly noted. Many decisions were made and the sequence and combination of the decisions led to the disaster. The historian is able to document each decision, the sequence of these decisions, and the resulting combined assessment in a machine-understandable format. The historian is able to link the decision topic and terms to domain knowledge about the incident. This allows the historian to represent these decisions in a machine-understandable format so that the tools for viewing, mapping, searching, and managing decisions can be used to benefit this historical research and share with other researchers. One of these tools is a web-based decision analysis tool that can take current decisions (made, in the making or yet-to-be made) and discover and retrieve similar historical decisions for comparison and education. Other tools allow reasoning on options to make predictions on decision outcomes, based on the decision representation that is grounded in formal semantics.

Emergency Management

A fire at a chemical plant has released a harmful chemical that is now forming a plume which will move over a portion of the city. Emergency managers are instigating evacuation plans and an important decision is to select among the proposed evacuation routes based on the current conditions. The routes should be evaluated based on length, capacity, simplicity of directions, amount of exposure, and certain other criteria. Fortunately, as part of the planning, the decision has already been stored in a machine-understandable format that can be retrieved and all relevant authorities notified that the evacuation route decision is being considered, including details on the options and metrics for evaluating the options. One of the agencies responsible for infrastructure notes that a key overpass is closed due to a repair and updates the options from a remote location.

Civilians and rescue workers that are moving through the disaster area are using their mobile phones to enter information about the situation in their location. For instance, they can add the position of an injured person on a map, or information about broken and unusable structures. This information is then available as Linked Open Data so decisions based on this information can be processed immediately, with the weighted metrics allowing for the rapid assessment of evacuation routes. Within moments, the best of the pre-planned evacuation routes is recommended and a decision made.

In each case, conventional decision technology is enhanced not only by the usual economies of standardization, but also by the ability to exchange and merge decision data from different sources.