Visualizing situations – sense-making displays

For years, the underlying design premise for information systems was that the important problem was to collect and manage the data. We’ve succeeded so well, in fact, that the design problem now is to invent better ways to make sense out of the data we now have on hand.

Andrew Vande Moere’s information aesthetics blog is one of several new sources helping with that sense-making. Here,  he points to an example of some research from Utah on one approach to information display that might be adapted to any number of quickly evolving situations. You might also want to check out Andrew’s home page at the University of Sydney and the Key Centre of Design Cognition and Computing.

situational awareness map

16 December 2005

situationalawarenesssmall.jpga novel visual correlation paradigm for situational awareness (perception of elements within time & space, their meaning, & the projection of their future status) for various complex emergency applications such as network alert incident reporting, emergency awareness & biological agent detection.
the concentric rings in the circle represent sequential time samples. this modified tree-ring shows how the presence of biological agents has evolved over time. the inside of the ring structure shows where sensors across the country are set up. the map in the middle enables the correlation of the presence of agents to the sensor that detected it. the correlating line has a variable width that shows the probability of the agent under analysis: the thicker the line the greater the probability of an actual attack. additional information can be shown on the ring to support more complex analysis.
(better images after the break) [ (pdf)]

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