X. Chen1, I. Bishop2

1 - School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

2 - Centre for Geographic Information Systems and Modelling, the University of Melbourne



Communicating land cover changes and consequent impact assessments to local community is crucial in raising public awareness, understanding the changes, interpreting the causes and consequences, informing advice, and subsequently supporting decision-making. It is assumed that geo-visualisations, such as 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional and realistic geo-visualisations, are effective in these applications. The effectiveness of different geo-visualisations, however, cannot be assessed adequately based on our intuition, no matter whether they are technologically old-fashioned or technologically-advanced. Systematic research involving formal user surveys is seen as necessary when considering different applications and audiences. This thesis argues that this evaluation of geo-visualisation effectiveness should consider both individual visualisation options and, particularly, the benefits of combined visualisations.

Consequently, the research established a cognitive visualisation model as a framework and a multiple visualisation approach for implementation, and then created multiple visualisations to represent changing land cover. These were tested for effective communication and exploration. Four different combinations of multiple geo-visualisations were designed, allowing local community to extract information from different representations pertinent to changing land covers. These options included 2D and 3D, and abstract and realistic representations, with static and dynamic components. A community-based survey, including objective testing and subjective interviews, was undertaken to test the responses to various visualisation options regarding land cover changes.

It is concluded that although the real world cannot be perfectly represented, comprehension and interpretation can be improved and enhanced by providing effective multiple geo-visualisations in accordance with community specific needs and tasks.  Four multiple geo-visualisation options were examined in terms of their effects and levels of facilitating the comprehension of land cover changes. All options were found effective, although different representations supported different levels of visual thinking and understanding. Different levels of comprehension and interpretation of the real world were also evident between different users and user groups.