Spatial Cognition & Human Factors

Large volumes of geospatial data are being generated but not used effectively, because too little attention has been placed on making geoinformation technologies useful and usable for non-geotechnology experts. Enabling human interaction with geospatial information represents a fundamental challenge. An important focus for Center research toward meeting this challenge will be to assess existing and develop new geovisualization methods and tools from a human-centered perspective that puts the emphasis on user needs. A goal is to move beyond "traditional" approaches to human-computer interaction to focus not on how humans interact with machines, but on human access to and use of information. Recent and ongoing research by Center faculty and students addresses a range of cognitive and usability issues associated with geovisualization. These include fundamental questions related to:

  • understanding and use of visual representations and interfaces to those representations
  • dynamic representations as prompts for human understanding and knowledge construction
  • analysis of tasks that visual data exploration software needs to support
  • analysis of tasks that visual data exploration software needs to support
  • understanding the differences between individual and group use of visualization tools
  • multimodal interfaces to geospatial displays

We build on Center expertise in cognitive science and usability engineering to expand our focus to a wider range of use and usability issues related to geospatial information technology in a wider range of context and by a wider range of users.