Interaction with wildlife has been identified as an airport-environmental concern, by the FAA. As of 2012, birds alone have caused at least 55 fatal accidents, and the destruction of 108 civilian aircrafts leading to 276 deaths. This project attempts to design a visualization for the role of a wildlife control contractor, whose job is to control hazardous wildlife at or near the airports. Risk assessment plays a key role for this job type, in which potential losses are analysed using a combination of hazard level and the probability of a strike event, based on historical strike data.
A wildlife control contractor is responsible for management of wildlife at the site of the airport. The control measures range from habitat manipulation, to use of predators, to repelling wildlife, to lethal control of wildlife. The choice of equipments, such as pyrotechnics, distress calls or firearms, depends on the species, cost, risks, legal and logistical constraints.The contractor has to access risk, deploy control operations, and monitor the effectiveness of those operations in order to determine if it needs to be improved.
Not knowing the patterns in wildlife behavior could result in delayed response when wildlife is actually detected. Both risk assessment and operation monitoring could benefit from analysis of bird strike data. The questions that need to be answered from data are: What is the level of potential hazard from a particular species? Are the control measures effective? Based on the time of the year, what are the possible hazards?
● Birds with larger sizes or smaller species of birds with flocking behavior pose a higher risk to aircrafts. Separating strikes from species with a higher weight, and giving greater emphasis to strikes with flocking birds, helps to identify trends in wildlife strike risks.
● Frequency of a species being struck, amount of time to recover from the strike, and probability of the aircraft damage for the species, is used to calculate the risk levels.
● An increase in strikes because of an increase in incidents with smaller species, as long as rate of strikes with larger or flocking species is decreasing, is an indication of better wildlife control.
● Tasks such as comparison of species against cost per strike and effect on flight, along with temporal data such as day/night, month and year of occurrence, time of occurrence in relation to phase of flight, also helps in risk assessment.
The data is visualized in small multiples, categorized by species of birds. For each category of bird, the risk factor, a combination of number of strikes and the cost incurred from those strikes is represented using a wedge shaped structure with the number of strikes is proportional to the left-side height of the wedge, and the cost is denoted by the right-side height. Based on which value is greater, with respect to all species, the slope suggests risk factor. Also visualized for each species is data about strikes against phases of flight, and also the time of day. Contractors can sort the visualization by number of strikes, cost, and also filter by size of bird, flocking behavior and time of day .
The control mechanism and equipments vary based on the species of bird. Certain guns and devices requires a permit and authorization before deploying. An example would be a gun that has a shooting range of 500 meters, and is mainly used for flocking birds. This visualization allows the contractor to get an overview of what species of birds are likely to strike based on month and time of day, and also the phase of flight may suggest the physical location at the airfield that they need to go to. The wedge shapes are expressive as they sort of represent the feather/plumage of the bird. It is also effective because the contractor can compare the slopes between different species, in order to prioritize, and also for a particular species of bird provides a good visual representation of the risk factor, based on if the wedge is directed outwards or inwards. This visualization helps the contractor plan everyday activities in an effective way, based on past strike data. At the very top of the visualization are bar-charts that show the trends in strikes by year and month.