LBS, compatibility, and user-friendliness

One of the aspects of the article that I found to be most interesting (and relates to my GIScience topic of error and uncertainty) is the mis-matching of geospatial data collected by various individuals or agencies. This also relates to the lecture on spatial cognition, as the data being generated by native and non-native users is greatly influenced by the ways in which spatial knowledge has been gained, whether consciously or sub-consciously. In order to foster LBS activities such as predicting locations, this information is likely to be required to be compatible, which seems like just as challenging of a task as creating universal ontologies.

Catering LBS to the needs of various users is also an interesting and challenging subject, especially as applications and platforms are hindered by features such as small cell phone screens. For various applications, for example, the article notes that a wide array of layers and sources are needed to provide the required information. Also challenging is deciding how to model this information in a user-friendly manner. The article notes that including landmarks, for instance, may be more beneficial than information such as street names. As has been noted in previous posts, the notion of differing needs with regards to presenting information on a screen is also imminent when designing systems for disabled individuals. Since even using a map-based application may be difficult, text-based descriptions may be required instead.

As a final note, Jiang et al. discussed combining the functionality of geometric and symbolic models to include the advantages of both in an LBS. Perhaps this idea is similar to designing road signs, for example, where efforts are made to allow those who may not speak the native language or are illiterate to be able to navigate their way. Like the article notes, no assumptions can be made about a user’s prior knowledge of GIS or spatial environments, which may include vey basic notions such as literacy. As GIS students, it is easy for us to overlook or take for granted the knowledge we have gained through our education, so being able to understand the needs of others will certainly be a challenge.

– jeremy

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