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Augmented Seriation: Usability of a Visual and Auditory Tool for Geographic Pattern Discovery with Risk Perception Data

GLUCK, Myke (mgluck@lis.fsu.edu), YU, Lixin, JU, Boryung, JEONG, Woo-Soeb, and CHANG, Crystal, Florida State University, 244 Shores Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2100

Key Words: seriation, multimedia, visualization, auditory tools, geographical data analysis, spatial analysis, usability

Geographic data are often presented in maps and tables using geographic information system (GIS) viewers, spreadsheets, and other software. Are there other ways of presenting spatial data to users to improve perception and interpretation of the information? This study developed and tested a data presentation tool that integrated a map viewer, seriation matrix, and sound generator to study how users receive and perceive spatially related information.

Seriation is the process of looking for univariate sequences in data, such as a chronological sequence of pottery shards at an archeological site. Seriation, also called reorderable or permuted matrices, may be used as a tool for discovering patterns in numerical data. Seriation data matrix cells contain icons proportional in size to data values rather than actual data values. Users of a seriation tool permute rows and columns of the matrix to visually discover graphical patterns of the data with meaningful interpretations.

Augmented seriation uses a computer graphical user interface to add interactive manipulation, color, sound, and map views to the basic seriation techniques. Augmented seriation permits simultaneous display of maps and iconized data matrices. Augmented seriation's maps and matrices are graphically linked to permit highlighting (brushing) of related cells in the matrix and map elements (points, lines, or polygons), expanding the use of seriation for more visual analyses of spatial and temporal phenomena; thus, augmented seriation permits users to perform a visual principal component-like analysis of numerical and spatial data concurrently. Augmented seriation also employs sound supplementing the visual pattern discovery techniques with aural analyses.

We conducted usability tests of our software implementation with naïve geographic users and have found favorable results. Results indicate that after receiving an explanation of seriation, augmented seriation, and a basic introduction to the tool's menus, users can effectively and efficiently employ the concepts of seriation and this tool to discern numerical as well as spatial patterns. In our tests, users discerned patterns in hazards and risk data especially well with the visual tools and, to a lesser degree, the auditory tools. The presentation includes a demonstration of the current augmented seriation software implementation