Synopsis: This project aims at developing and evaluating methods and techniques for the representation of geographic relevance in mobile geovisualisation applications and services.
Motivation: Mobile usage of geographic information has recently increased due to new affordable and powerful mobile devices. Accordingly mobile services employing geographic information, such as location-based services (LBS) or mobile geovisualisation services have been developed. However, the notion of geographic relevance, the implementation of relevance filtering and the depiction of relevance indicators are missing in today’s LBS. Context-awareness allows for the assessment, filtering, and visualisation of geographic relevance within the context of mobile geovisualisation and location-based services. This may not only be fundamental for the further success of LBS and mobile geovisualisation services, but could also provide a valuable concept for several additional aspects within Geographic Information Science (GIScience). We therefore propose to investigate this new research direction of geographic relevance based on previous research on mobile and context-based adaptation of geovisualisation, generalisation, and moving objects in order to establish a new research focus within GIScience and a dedicated team within our group.
Research objective: The objective of the project is the development of methods and metaphors for the effective representation and visualisation of geographic relevance of geospatial features. This will include efficient representations of relevance, of spatio-temporal constraints of mobility and activities, and of accessibility within the space-time prism. Relevance can be represented as a property of single objects or it can be conceptualised as new, synthesised feature based on an analysis of several relations and be represented as surfaces. Geographic relevance is investigated under the perspective of activity theory, since activities offer a structured and useful framework for the mobile usage context involving geographic (spatio-temporal), structural, and perceptional (visual) context. This proposed research is based upon previous research aimed at developing novel adaptation methods and visualisation techniques for mobile geovisualisation services. Drawing upon and extending the previously developed techniques we propose to transfer knowledge and deepen the integration of spatial and temporal analysis methods currently being developed in complementary research fields such as geographic information visualisation and geographic information retrieval, and temporal GIS.
The fundamental research question of the proposed project is: How can we support spatio-temporal based decision making in mobile situations and mobile user activities by employing geographic relevance? The more specific research question in the LBS/mobile context can be seen as follows:
How can geographic relevance be efficiently and effectively represented in the context of a mobile geovisualisation service? Which relevant objects do we have to represent and how can we filter geographic information based on its relevance in a specific context for a mobile user?
The main outputs are expected in three areas. First, knowledge integration across complementary research fields (as mentioned above) is carried out at the theoretical level (relevance representation of geographic objects), a test bed for developing and implementing methods of relevance representation is implemented, and methods are evaluated with users (empirical evaluation of usefulness and usability). Expected results are 1) additional knowledge about adapted representations, 2) new insights how relevance metaphors for geographic relevance work, and 3) a set of methods for representing geographic relevance subject to further developments and investigations.
Significance of the research: This proposal will make fundamental contributions at the intersection of geographic information science, including (cognitive) geovisualisation research, and applied adaptive, mobile geovisualisation service development, deployment, and use. The proposed research will provide answers to essential research questions such as “How can we efficiently employ and represent geographic relevance to communicate spatio-temporal information within a mobile context?” The outcomes of the proposed research plan will specifically lead to a better understanding of the nature and applicability of the relevance concept in the mobile geographic information usage context, and in geographic information science in general. Capitalising on an interdisciplinary approach, this project will draw upon expertise in geographic information science, geovisualisation, information science, statistics, cognitive psychology, computer science and related fields. While our approach for relevance representation and visualisation should be applicable to any visuo-spatial display, addressing the mobile usage context for our study has two compelling advantages: 1) the mobile use case is probably the hardest to solve with respect to geographic relevance in context and visual display space of mobile devices 2) the mobile context may foster the advancement of knowledge in two complementary fields - GIScience with geovisualisation and experimental psychology. We expect the new relevance representation methods that will be developed in the proposed project to be of immediate use to a wide range of application areas dealing with geographic information communication.
In a broader scope, better understanding of visual information processing involved in using mobile displays and extracting knowledge from graphics is fundamental prerequisite for supporting mobile users during navigation, in mobility related activities, and for rapid decision-making processes. Cognitively adequate and efficient representation and portrayal of geographic information for anybody in everyday life situations should be an urgent objective for an information society reliant on geographical knowledge and geographically informed decision making.
The broader impacts of this study will benefit society at large in two important ways: (1) a deeper understanding of geographic relevance will allow the designing of improved displays in geovisualisation services, LBS, and navigation systems for mobility related decision-making, and (2) better understanding of mobile display use will lead to improved geoservices and better trained geographic information users, two indispensable aspects for generally succeeding in an information rich society, and within a mobile society specifically.