Kairos Research Wins Subcontract to Support DARPA’s Habitus Program

Kairos Research was recently awarded a subcontract by Raytheon BBN Technologies as part of a multi-disciplinary research effort supporting the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Habitus program. According to DARPA’s website, Habitus “seeks to capture and make local knowledge available to military operators, providing them with an insider’s view to support sound decision-making.”

Residents of local communities often possess shared but unspoken knowledge which is opaque to outsiders. This implicit knowledge can include everything from transportation (knowing which shortcut to take to avoid backups during rush hour), reliability of local information sources (knowing which local news station is least trustworthy), to sanitation (knowing which water sources are contaminated). Lack of insight into local knowledge is especially problematic for U.S. forces operating in remote, under-governed regions around the world. Efforts to provide stability and support in such areas may be ineffective if they fail to account for how locals perceive and understand their own environment.

To achieve the goals of Habitus, Kairos will develop innovative survey methodologies aimed at eliciting implicit local knowledge and rendering it transparent to military commanders and operators. This novel methodology will combine elements of traditional surveys with adaptive, narrative-based methods and will apply cutting-edge data analytics to extract maximal information from a minimum number of questions and respondents.

Dr. Amy Summerville, Senior Research Scientist at Kairos, will lead Kairos’s contributions to the project.  According to Dr. Summerville, “Military stability and support operations often involve assisting in humanitarian crises where time is of the essence to save lives. We hope that developing a tool that helps commanders quickly and clearly understand local knowledge and perspectives will assist these life-saving missions.”

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