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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Jefferson Science Fellowship
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Barrett Caldwell
Distributed Expertise, Knowledge Sharing, and Systems Engineering in Policy and Operations Networks
January 24, 2017

Critical policy decisions and responses to world events depend on the interactions of human teams using information technology to share expertise and knowledge. These interactions often involve team members being distributed over place, time, and areas of subject matter emphasis. A variety of cognitive, organizational, and technological factors influence how teams coordinate tasks and align information in response to changing situations and events. Organizations such as the U.S. Department of State must respond to an important and complex set of engineering as well as human systems challenges in a political, and not just technical, context. Emerging technologies and threats combine historic needs for distributed task performance with new understandings of flows of both physical and cyber resources. This talk describes the author’s previous work in human factors and systems engineering focusing on team processes. Examples from space flight, healthcare, and cyber systems operations illustrate general principles of system dynamics and patterns of effective team coordination. The author will also discuss applications to State Department operations modernization, as well as Science, Technology and Health policy advising and planning that draw on his experience in the Office of Japanese Affairs, Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.