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Title page for ETD etd-03242014-105111

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hooten, Eli Raward
Author's Email Address eli.r.hooten@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03242014-105111
Title Information Context in Geocollaborative Interfaces
Degree PhD
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Julie A. Adams Committee Chair
Alexander Klippel Committee Member
Aniruddha Gokhale Committee Member
Robert E. Bodenheimer Committee Member
Timothy McNamara Committee Member
  • geocollaboration
  • data visualization
  • mobile shared workspace
  • information context
  • digital maps
Date of Defense 2014-03-19
Availability unrestricted
Information context places individual observations into the context of an environment and provides additional meaning to disjoint information. Information context is used to form an overall awareness from independent observations, which can improve decision making and understanding.

Geocollaborative work domains, such as mobile shared workspaces and community-based urban planning, are contingent upon collaboration between multiple individuals to reach successful outcomes. It is crucial to support effective collaboration, communication, and flexibility in these domains in order to support proper decision making.

Geocollaborators typically perform tasks that require knowledge of a region's geography; therefore, digital maps are frequently used to support geocollaboration. The current state of the art in geocollaborative software applications is limited in the visualization of and interaction with information on the digital map. Information is typically presented in such a way as to obscure the underlying map and does not adequately present contextual information to users. Required information may be very dense when rendered on a digital map, resulting in visual clutter that can hinder wayfinding, orientation, and understanding.

The presented research proposes, develops, and evaluates three types of information context: geospatial, temporal, and semantic. These information contexts are then used to design Feature Sets, a data visualization method intended for geocollaborative software applications. Feature Sets are designed to leverage information context in order to reduce visual clutter and improve user performance during geocollaborative tasks.

Feature Sets were subjected to three highly-controlled user evaluations, and each evaluation determined the applicability of one of the three proposed information contexts. Evaluation results found that the proposed information contexts are beneficial to geospatial visualization design and can be used as design guidelines. Feature Sets also outperformed a point-of-interest based visualization method, a commonly used geospatial visualization technique. Furthermore, the design of Feature Sets makes them immediately applicable to software developed for the mobile shared workspaces domain.

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