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Visualization Design for Communicating Defence Investment Uncertainty and Risk

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System Analysis and Studies

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investment planning, risk, risk management, uncertainty, visual analytics, visualization


Uncertainty and risk both affect decision making regarding defence investment, but they are notoriously difficult to communicate. Uncertainties arise in measurements, problem solving (e.g., simplifying assumptions), and in the act of communication itself. Risk has two components (likelihood and consequence) that are both subject to the sources of uncertainties mentioned above. This RTG will collect useful visualizations that can help analysts communicate difficult concepts and analyses to decision makers.


To develop a visualization design framework for effectively communicating defence investment uncertainty and risk to decision-makers.


1. Determining decision-support requirements - Collect the decision-makers’ and analysts’ requirements to aggregate and communicate defence investment uncertainty and risk. 2. Collection techniques could include surveys, literature reviews, interviews, etc. - Identify the key risk categories, e.g. financial, operational, schedule, cultural, etc., and their interdependencies. This will lead to an understanding of the areas where it has traditionally proved difficult or impossible to represent, or to interpret, uncertainty and risk. 3. Translating requirements into a visual analytics framework - Convert the decision-support requirements into visualization tasks using the Brehmer and Munzner multi-level abstract visualization typology. - Categorize tasks as exploratory, explanatory, or both. An exploratory task is a task that enables an analyst to effectively explore the data, whereas an explanatory task is a task that enables an analyst to effectively communicate information with decision-makers. - Considering state-of-the-art, and best, practices, develop visualization options for exploratory and explanatory visualization tasks. - Develop criteria to evaluate and understand the trade-offs between different visualization options. The criteria should consider factors such as: o data requirements; o software requirements (e.g. Tableau, Spotfire, d3.js, etc.) o complexities involved in data transformation (for example dimensionality reduction); o the effectiveness of visual representation and interactive visualization techniques (for example use of colour, brushing and linking); and o the ability to facilitate the generation of new insights. - Develop a process model that shows how the visualization tasks can be combined and used to effectively support strategic investment decisions. 4. Demonstrating the framework - Demonstrate how the visual analytics framework could be used via strategic investment questions, such as: o How do different defence budget scenarios impact operational risk? o How does uncertainty in cost escalation and foreign exchange rate exposure impact defence purchasing power? o How does the cancellation of a major investment programme impact operational risk and risks to associated projects?

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