Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure and User-centric HCI

Usability evaluation of GIS is delineated by Haklay et al. in their publication 2010. The connection of human computer interaction (HCI) and public participation geographic information science (PPGIS) is delineated in their paper, but the relationship with geospatial cyberinfrastructure is not explored enough. I think the idea of user-centric design can also be applied in geospatial cyberinfrastructure, which has attracted more research interests.

Geospatial cyberinfrastructure, which provide the functionalities of geospatial data collection, management, analysis and visualization, adopts pure system-centric design in previous studies. Due to the fact that most users of geospatial cyberinfrastructure are research scientists or domain experts, geospatial cyberinfrastructure is criticized for its bad usability. As the development of PPGIS, more users become geospatial data producer in GIS. Since these data are valuable in GIS study, geospatial cyberinfrastructure should be adapted to provide user-centric services.

Here, I name a few challenges for utilizing user-centric design in geospatial cyberinfrastructure, especially when we consider better HCI. Firstly, data search within geospatial cyberinfrastructure should be equipped with fuzzy reasoning functionalities to help non-professional GIS users to fetch the data that they need. Secondly, at the visualization layer, the display should be easy to understand (I think GoogleMap has provided a good example) and manipulate for users. Moreover, multi-media input/output with HCI should also be developed. Thirdly, at the infrastructure level, we are facing a dilemma: the controllability and learnability. To be specific, if we give users more control of geospatial cyberinfrastructure, the corresponding training work also increase. If we want to keep geospatial cyberinfrastructure easy to learn, we should hide most details about the geospatial cyberinfrastructure. Hot to balance the controllability and learnability is a great challenge in the user-centric design of geospatial cyberinfrastructure.


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