CAVEMANDER: An Approach and Software Platform for Building Command and Control Applications in CAVE
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Command and control systems play a vital role in displaying information about various operational situations, thus helping decision makers to thoroughly understand them and make related decisions in a timely and correct manner. In military operations, pictures of such situations have been traditionally displayed on large tactical boards and/or vertical maps. Although for several decades computers have been used to replace these traditional displays, the pictures of the situations have largely been presented on 2D media only, such as on PC monitors or wall screens. Due to several recognized advantages of 3D visualizations, combined with the power of immersion in virtual worlds, we believe that in command and control applications 3D immersive environments such as the CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment (in short, CAVE) could significantly improve the understanding of the situation and the decision-making performance of the commanders. This dissertation investigates existing solutions for developing software for CAVE and proposes a new approach and related toolset for creating command and control applications in CAVE. CAVEMANDER, the proposed approach and its related supporting software tools, is aimed at improving the development of command and control applications for CAVE and consists of a new software engineering method encompassing the necessary construction steps and related artifacts as well as a set of software resources (a software platform) composed largely of reusable code. CAVEMANDER's advantages are demonstrated on a command and control application in the area of military training, an application instantiated in scenarios that can test the trainees skills for command and control, including planning and testing, information interpretation, and failure investigation. Although command and control systems are mainly associated with military applications, future research can expand the scope of CAVEMANDER to support applications in other domains, such as fighting wildfires, conducting search and rescue missions, and coordinating planet expeditions. In summary, the work described here is aimed at filling the existing research and development gap in building CAVE-based command and control applications. Future work could encompass new simulation applications, enhanced features and new software components, usability studies, and automated code generation.