The explosion of the Web in recent years has increased both the opportunity and the need for collaborative planning and scheduling tools. On one hand it has provided an infra-structure that offers unprecedented potential for putting planning and scheduling capabilities in the hands of mobile and physically distributed decision-making agents. Planning and scheduling tools and technologies can now be coupled with widely accessible browser interfaces and increasingly standardized data formats and application communication protocols. On the other hand, the emergence of this technological infrastructure has placed increased emphasis on dynamic, real-time tracking of execution status and on incremental, distributed management of plans/schedules as circumstances evolve. Unfortunately, current planning and scheduling tools provide little support for these capabilities.
This project is investigating the development of light-weight, web-based architectures for collaborative planning and scheduling. Our long-term vision is on-demand delivery of planning and scheduling services over the internet, dynamically configured to meet current problem-solving circumstances and constraints. Toward this vision, we are developing planning, scheduling and user interface components that enable real-time collaborative planning and scheduling by mobile decision agents.
To demonstrate and test our ideas, we have developed a prototype system for resource management called COMIREM (Continuous, Mixed-Initiative Resource Management), currently being applied to support incremental plan development and management in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) planning domain. COMIREM is designed to operate within a standard Internet browser environment. The user interface capitalizes on modern web-design tools and is implemented as a Shockwave application. The scheduling engine is configured as an HTTP server and, following emerging standardization trends, data integration and communication between system components is achieved via XML-based formats and HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Core resource management services provided by COMIREM leverage an underlying model of planning and scheduling as an incremental change process, and hence provide direct support for incremental, mixed-initiative solution development and management.