Information fusion is becoming increasingly human-centric. While past systems typically relegated humans to the role of
analyzing a finished fusion product, current systems are exploring the role of humans as integral elements in a modular
and extensible distributed framework where many tasks can be accomplished by either human or machine performers.
For example, "participatory sensing" campaigns give humans the role of "soft sensors" by uploading their direct
observations or as "soft sensor platforms" by using mobile devices to record human-annotated, GPS-encoded high
quality photographs, video, or audio. Additionally, the role of "human-in-the-loop", in which individuals or teams using
advanced human computer interface (HCI) tools such as stereoscopic 3D visualization, haptic interfaces, or aural
"sonification" interfaces can help to effectively engage the innate human capability to perform pattern matching,
anomaly identification, and semantic-based contextual reasoning to interpret an evolving situation.
The Pennsylvania State University is participating in a Multi-disciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI)
program funded by the U.S. Army Research Office to investigate fusion of hard and soft data in counterinsurgency
(COIN) situations. In addition to the importance of this research for Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB),
many of the same challenges and techniques apply to health and medical informatics, crisis management, crowd-sourced
"citizen science", and monitoring environmental concerns. One of the key challenges that we have encountered is the
development of data formats, protocols, and methodologies to establish an information architecture and framework for
the effective capture, representation, transmission, and storage of the vastly heterogeneous data and accompanying
metadata -- including capabilities and characteristics of human observers, uncertainty of human observations, "soft"
contextual data, and information pedigree. This paper describes our findings and offers insights into the role of data
representation in hard/soft fusion.