InvestigationOrganizer (IO) is a Webbased collaborative information system that integrates the generic functionality of a database, a document repository, a semantic hypermedia browser, and a rulebased inference system with specialized modeling and visualization functionality to support accident/mishap investigation teams. This accessible, online structure is designed to support investigators by allowing them to make explicit, shared, and meaningful links among evidence, causal models, findings, and recommendations.

The semantic hypermedia component includes a customizable ontology that specifies various types of items such as people, places, events, causes, systems, and associated information products relevant to mishap investigations. The ontology also describes the important properties of each item, and details the potential relationships among items. Items stored in the repository are classified according to the ontology. Users can set properties for stored items, and can associate a relevant electronic file with each one. Links between items can be established based on the relationships defined in the ontology, making the items viewable with the hypermedia browser to navigate the established links of interrelated items.

In addition to providing repository functionality, users can create and view overarching analysis models that specify causal factors, or hypothesized event sequences, leading up to the mishap. The causal models are linked to repository items that provide evidence to support or refute the hypothesized causes. The models can be viewed with linear, hierarchical, or network diagrams displayed by the user interface. The IO system was sponsored by the Engineering for Complex Systems program to address systemic challenges in NASA. It was built as a customized application of the SemanticOrganizer hypermedia system, and has been used in investigations ranging from small property damage cases to the loss of the space shuttle Columbia.

This program was developed by Richard Keller, Shawn Wolfe, Yuri Gawdiak, Robert Carvalho, Tina Panontin, and James Williams of Ames Research Center, and Ian Sturken of QSS Group, Inc. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Software category.

This invention is owned by NASA and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to

the Ames Technology Partnerships Division at (650) 604-2954.

Refer to ARC-15073-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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