To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of HawkEye 360.
A conceptual vision and strategy for the delivery of spectrum-based geospatial analytics.
A new space tech start-up which had recently launched a cluster of low-earth orbit satellites that detected and geo-located radio frequency emissions had begun collecting massive amounts of data and was working towards establishing product-market fit with test evaluations by both US government and international government agencies.
The start-up needed to develop a platform to deliver its proprietary geo-spatial data and analytics to intelligence analyst users. Additionally, the platform needed to support these analysts in making the best use of these novel analytics and data within their work.
I was tasked with conducting research which would result in the recommendation of a flagship product that would provide the highest value to end users as well as serve as the highest revenue source by capturing the breadth of customers in an emerging market.
Analysts within U.S. and allied country military, civil government, and international intelligence and security agencies. Research participants were located across the United States and in the Middle East.
A series of in-depth semi-structured interviews explored a variety of topics in regards to data, such as the value and use of historical vs. real-time data, useful analytics, data integrity, analyst work flow, reporting and stakeholder relationships.
A broad competitive analysis was conducted across 17 industry categories assessing 44 products which utilize data analytics and enables and facilitates ease of communication and planning among teams and between entities on threat identification, behavior, and risk. The competitive analysis identified 14 distinctive types of features and a broad array of functional variations within each feature type. The analytics produced by various products ranged from risk and trend analysis, anomaly detection, drift modelling and oceanographic predictive modelling to density plots and historical vessel tracks.
Literature Review and Synthesis of Market Studies
The findings of two global market studies on civil government and commercial uses of satellite-based maritime surveillance were reviewed and synthesized. Additional research studies on specific issues related to transnational organized crime that satellite-based maritime surveillance can be used to address were also reviewed. Investigative journalism articles in the New York Times and narratives by Global Fishing Watch scientists and analysts provided vital first-hand accounts and background on how satellite signal data is used in the tracking and interception of vessels suspected of engaging in illegal fishing.
The survey asked respondents to rate features and capabilities presented within the questions on an importance scale for inclusion in a platform that would make their jobs in analysis, communications, and planning, facilitating and executing on actions related to that analysis, such as vessel interdiction easier. It also included a few open-ended questions.
"Show more details on maps and give map tools descriptions”
Analysts were recruited through sales contacts and existing customer organizations. To broaden the types of analysts and specific security threats in which satellite data is used to address, I recruited interviewees by using LinkedIn and then incorporated snowball recruit interviewees who were former colleagues or associates currently working in other missions. Interviewees possessed varied levels of analyst experience ranging from 2 years of work experience to 10+ years of experience. Interview topics explored goals, needs, pain points, tools, work-flow and reporting.
IDI: Coded interview transcript
As an on-site contextual inquiry at intelligence agencies was prohibited due to government restrictions, one was done with an environmental watchdog (an international non-profit funded by Google and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) which utilizes satellite data for tracking and reporting on illegal fishing.
Four distinct personas emerged from analyses of the in-depth interviews. Two modified personas are shown below.
Design Principles and Design Stories
Towards the end of my user research process, the satellite start-up hired its first UX Designer who shadowed me for the contextual inquiry and one of the final in-depth interviews.
I then produced for the UX Designer “Jobs-to-be-Done” design stories and collaborated with the designer on early wireframes and user task flow.
After synthesizing and reviewing all of the market and user research findings with the designer, we jointly established a set of design principles.
While collaborating with the designer I produced design diagrams to facilitate communication on user flow and to communicate the component or functional requirements to engineers.
I also data modelled a risk assessment analytic and diagramed its data variables for the data scientist's use in the feature engineering of a machine learning algorithm.
Data Model Diagram
This research process culminated in platform wireframes and a product presentation to stakeholders.
Recommendations focused on not only making data and analytics accessible and easily interpretable with visualization, but also on ensuring efficiency in data integration, collaboration and reporting work flows so that threats can be quickly assessed and timely decisions and actions generated.
Platforms which securely facilitate regional collaboration and cross-agency and cross-border sharing of data on monitoring, control, and surveillance data will become market leaders.