Berkshires 2006 Sweep Width Experiment

In the summer of 2006, Rick Toman (Massachusetts State Police) and Dan O'Connor (NewSAR) organized a sweep width experiment and summit called "Detection in the Berkshires" at Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.  In addition to the sweep-width experiment, Perkins & Roberts provided search tactics training for several teams, and the summit provided a chance for us to explore similarities and differences between formal search theory and formalized search tactics.  It was an important the chance to meet many key people, compare notes, and discuss ideas.  I wish I had been more diligent about following up. Many thanks to Rick & Dan for organizing the event, and to many others listed at the end. However, this post is mostly to provide a reference for the sweep width experiment.

Continue reading

MapScore Updates

The MapScore site has been updated! The most exciting new feature is Batch Upload.

  • Batch Upload!  In one fell swoop, upload and re-score all your models and cases (or as many as necessary).  No more clicking around or messing with “active” vs “inactive” cases.  (Unless you want to...)
MapScore batch upload screen. New Nov. 2013.

MapScore batch upload screen. New Nov. 2013.

Continue reading

Search Theory in C4ISR Journal

The C4ISR Journal had a recent search theory article quoting me along with Larry Stone.  I'm quite honored, like the British company in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency:

...was the only British software company that could be mentioned in the same sentence as ... Microsoft.... The sentence would probably run along the lines of ‘...unlike ... Microsoft...’ but it was a start.

It's a good article, covering the undeniably exciting historical origins hunting U-boats, and looking at what may be a modern renaissance.  I think the article stretches to connect search theory with Big Data, but the author does note that when the data is visual, and you have humans scanning it for objects, there is a connection.  With planning, it could have been used to prioritize the Amazon Mechanical Turk search for Jim Gray.  (The resolution of the actual images in that search was probably too low regardless, but the core idea was sound.)

Continue reading

Structured Methods for Intelligence Analysis

My colleagues just published a paper in Euro Journal on Decision Processes, for their special issue on risk management.

Karvetski, C.W, Olson, K.C., Gantz, D.T., Cross, G.A., "Structuring and analyzing competing hypotheses with Bayesian networks for intelligence analysis". EURO Journal on Decision Processes, Special Issue on Risk Management:

Alas, it's behind a paywall and the printed edition isn't due until Autumn. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:

Continue reading

Banning et al 2011. Lateral range curve for cluelike objects.

"Small Scatters of Generally Unobtrusive Artifacts"

When searching for an image for this post, I came across several works by E.B. Banning applying search theory to archaeology:

  • Sweep widths and the detection of artifacts in archaeological survey. (2011) [Science Direct]
  • Detection functions for archaeological survey (2006). [JSTOR]
  • Archaeological Survey (2002 book). [Google books]

Now what would archaeologists be doing with sweep widths?  Looking for nails, shards, and other small objects in the soil.  What they nicely call "small scatters of generally unobtrusive artifacts on the surface".

In WiSAR we call them clues.

Continue reading

Paul Doherty's Research Page

Just a quick note to highlight Paul Doherty's new research page.  It includes:

  • Overview of his research
  • Publications list
  • Software & Datasets page, including links to MapSAR and discussion groups.
  • Linkspage with a SAR & GIS bibliography including the memorably titled
    • Heggie, Travis W, and Michael E Amundson. 2009. “Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in US National Parks.” Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.
    • And the humorously mangled:  Is, Information, Releasable To, and Foreign Nationals. “Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System ( SAROPS ).” Training 2.
    • And three articles it sounds like I should read soon:
      • Jobe, T.R., and P.S. White. 2009. “A New Cost-distance Model for Human Accessibility and an Evaluation of Accessibility Bias in Permanent Vegetation Plots in Great Smoky Mountains National Park , USA.” Journal of Vegetation Science: 1099–1109.
      • Miller, Harvey J., and Scott a. Bridwell. 2009. “A Field-Based Theory for Time Geography.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99 (1) (January 8): 49–75. link
      • Pingel, Thomas J. 2011. “Estimating an Empirical Hiking Function from GPS Data.” Sports Medicine: 1–3.

At Mason we're collaborating with Paul to test a Watershed-Distance model developed by his research group.  Based on 58 tests run so far by Elena Sava on MapScore, this simple model scores 0.55.  Not bad for a model that doesn't yet discriminate by category (or any other feature).  Elena just finished a multivariate model combining Watersheds with the more usual crows'-flight distance, and we will begin testing that soon.