Collaborative Work Systems Inc.

Engineering Human Centered Collaborative Systems for Complex Work Environments

Collaborative Work Systems Inc.

Engineering Human Centered Collaborative Systems for Complex Work Environments


Since being founded in 2006, CWS has developed a number of products & technologies, and conducted Research & Development and service work under various contracting mechanisms. The portfolio of products and technologies is described in the Products section of this site. Here a sample of Research & Development and service work is described to demonstrate project focused experience and capabilities.

Examplary Research & Development Projects

Title: Telehaptic Assistance for Tactical Operations
Client Organization: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Duration: 01/23/2009-06/06/2012
Contract Type: Prime, FP, SBIR Phase I, II
Project Description:
CWS was supported by DARPA SBIR Phase I & II funding to:
  1. identify design principles for deciding the physical placement of tactors on the body and low-level tactor parameters (e.g. signal frequency and amplitude)
  2. create and evaluate design principles for developing tactile messages that can be easily taught and reliably recognized
  3. identify tactical operations supporting information that might realistically and usefully be communicated with tactile messages
  4. create and evaluate tactor arrangements around the waist and a sample set of messages tailored to that arrangement to support (a) soldier-to-soldier commands, (b) navigation, and (c) descriptions for significant objects near the soldier
  5. create a prototype mobile delivery system
In conducting this research and development effort CWS worked closely with Mide Corporation, a small business that is able to manufacture piezo tactors at its own facility and which created the Tactor Control Unit (TCU) to actually play the tactile patterns designed by CWS. CWS also worked closely with Engineering Psychology faculty and cadet researchers at the United States Military Academy (USMA) who helped facilitate multiple experiments to evaluate the system.

Title: Collaboration Skills Training for Command Post of the Future (CPoF)
Client Organization: Army Research Institute (ARI)
Duration: 03/22/2010-01/22/2011
Contract Type: Prime, FP, BAA
Project Description:
The DARPA sponsored Command Post of the Future (CPoF) research program produced an innovative collaborative work environment in which distributed command staff can both create personalized views of the battlespace and share a common operational picture. These capabilities support operator collaboration in pre-defined and ad hoc teaming situations. CPoF is also rich in support tools for collaboration and communications itself, having flexibility to define fixed and ad hoc shared workspaces, voice communications, and chat environments. These capabilities, however, are not necessarily used, or used as intended, by system users. This work involved developing an in depth understanding of the collaboration skills required of distributed team members to accomplish command and control (C2) tasks within the CPoF environment and then making recommendations for tailored training of those collaborative skills.

Title: A Mobile Multimodal Situation Awareness Assessment Tool (AWARE)
Client Organization: Naval Postgraduate School
Duration: 08/01/2007 to 07/01/2009
Contract Type: Prime, FP
Project Description:
AWARE was designed to facilitate efficiently evaluating the effectiveness of technologies intended to support geographical situation awareness (GSA). A paper-based GSA assessment methodology, GRADE, was developed by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) for measuring GSA during field training exercises. AWARE presents a digitized GRADE to not only assess the accuracy of human geographical situation awareness, but also to diagnosis breakdowns in GSA and provide feedback during exercise After Action Review. Participants are handed a tablet and asked to indicate where entities are and what they expect to happen next by direct manipulation of the digital map, dragging icons, and drawing regions or paths, while verbally recording their rationale. The data can then be exported to Excel and Google Earth and used during After Action Reviews before stakeholders leave and events are fresh on their minds. AWARE was effectively used in four Tactical Network Topology (TNT) field experiments at Camp Roberts, CA involving Special Operations forces engaged in surveillance task scenarios, where insurgent activity was acted out at different locations and times, and used various sensor technologies including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with onboard cameras.

Examplary Service Work Projects

Title: Health Information Technology Safety Support
Client Organization: Informatics Patient Safety (IPS), Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Duration: 04/01/2015-03/31/2017
Contract Type: Prime, FP, SIN 132-51 - Information Technology (IT) Professional Services
Project Description:
CWS provided HIT safety support through four specific tasks:
Task 1: Project Management – specific subtasks ensured: (1) a Contractor Project Management Plan (CPMP) was created and discussed with the PM at the onset of the contract during a kickoff meeting to help ensure common ground in goals and procedures, (2) expectations for monthly reports to formally document progress, next steps, risks to task completion, and mitigation strategies.
Task 2: Support Services for HIT Safety Analysis – this task primarily involved providing a Human Factors perspective during the analysis of patient safety issues reported to IPS and evaluating new VHA sponsored mobile applications for potential patient safety issues.
Task 3: Support Services for IPS Knowledge Management – CWS helped redesign the IPS Knowledge Management Intranet site by identifying opportunities to leverage Microsoft Sharepoint’s ability to capture, store, process, and present information about various entities and relationships relevant to the knowledge IPS needs to manage.
Task 4: HIT Patient Safety Communication Materials – CWS helped design and develop a myriad of IPS technical reports and also contributed towards presentations and papers for the annual Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Health Care Symposium.

Title: Usability Evaluations of the MyVeHU Campus
Client Organization: Training Stategy, Office of Information & Analytics, Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Duration: 09/12/2011 - 09/11/2013
Contract Type: Prime, FP, GSA SIN 132-51 - Information Technology (IT) Professional Services
Project Description:
MyVeHU Campus was a web based application that provided electronic health record (EHR) application and data management training. MyVeHU Campus benefitted from a rich archive of training materials from previously held in-person VA eHealth University conferences complemented by live, but at-a-distance, training to support training on contemporary topics. MyVeHU Campus offered many potential benefits to its users, the VA, and health care in general, but to achieve that potential the functionality of the site needed to not only be high in utility, it also had to be usable. Recognizing this, in September 2011, the Office of Informatics and Analytics (OIA) contracted Collaborative Works Systems (CWS), Inc. to contribute to the continued development of MyVeHU Campus by providing feedback on the usability of the site as it was iteratively developed. CWS did this by applying two standard human factors methods for usability evaluation that help identify specific interface elements for improvement: (1) heuristic evaluation, and (2) usability testing. For each issue identified in the evaluation reports, a severity rating and at least one suggestion for improvement was provided.

Title: An Evaluation Framework and Methodology for Point of Care (POC) Technologies
Client Organization: Emerging Health Technologies(EHT), Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
Duration: 03/17/2009- 10/31/2009
Contract Type: Sub, T&M, GSA SIN 132-51 - Information Technology (IT) Professional Services
Project Description:
The goal of this effort supported by US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) VHA Office of Information (OI) Chief Health Informatics Office (CHIO), Emerging Health Technologies (EHT) office was to create an evaluation framework and methodology to support examining newer and emerging information technologies intended for use by VHA clinicians at the point of care. The project completed in 2009 involved the development of four interrelated pieces:
  1. Point of Care (POC) Technology Evaluation Framework or Reference Model
  2. POC Technology Evaluation Methodology
  3. POC Technology Evaluation Measurement Framework
  4. User Review data collection instruments

Title: Informatics Patient Safety
Client Organization: Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Informatics Patient Safety Office (IPS)
Duration: 08/01/2008- 07/31/2011
Contract Type: Sub, T&M, GSA SIN 132-51 - Information Technology (IT) Professional Services
Project Description:
CWS contributed to the growth and success of the Informatics Patient Safety office by working on a multitude of projects including:

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