2015-2019 Use Commission Report

2015−2019 Report: Commission on Use, Users, and Usability Issues (UUUI)

The following report was submitted to the International Cartographic Association for review at the 2019 General Assembly in Tokyo, Japan. A compilation of all ICA Commission reports is available here.

About the Commission on Use, Users, and Usability Issues

The International Cartographic Association (ICA) has a longstanding interest in map use and user issues. The Map Use Commission first was established in 1984 and benefitted from continual commission status since, excepting the 1999−2003 cycle. During this history, the commission has undergone multiple name changes, including Use & Usability and most currently Use, User, and Usability Issues (UUUI). A name change is proposed for the 2019−2023 terms of reference to the Commission on the User Experience (UX) to maintain our focus on user studies and usability research in cartography while exploring exciting new developments on user experience design in information visualization, human-computer interaction, usability engineering, and web design.

The 2015−2019 UUUI Commission terms of reference were approved with a Core Group of Kristien Ooms (Chair: University of Gent, Belgium), Artemis Skarlatidou (Vice Chair: University College London, UK), Alena Vondráková (Palaký University, Czechia), and Robert Roth (Vice Chair: University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA). Robert Roth relieved chairship duties from Kristien Ooms in 2018 due to a career shift from the University of Gent to industry.

Flagship Results for 2015−2019

UUUI Commission activities resulted in six peer-reviewed publications and eleven organized events during the 2015-2019 terms of reference

  • Roth RE, A Çöltekin, L Delezari, HF Filho, A Griffin, A Hall, J Korpi, I Lokka, A Mendonça, K Ooms, and CPJM van Elzakker. 2017. User studies in Cartography: Opportunities for empirical research on interactive maps and visualizations. International Journal of Cartography Special Issue on Envisioning the Future of Cartographic Research (Eds: A Griffin, AC Robinson, and RE Roth). 3(Supp 1): 61-89. doi:10.1080/23729333.2017.1288534.
  • Roth RE. User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. In: The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (Ed: J Wilson). University Consortium of Geographic Information Science. doi:10.22224/gistbok/2017.2.5
  • van Elzakker CPJM and K Ooms. 2017. Understanding map uses and users. In: The Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography (Ed: AJ Kent and P Vujakovic). London: Routledge. p55-67.
  • Ooms K and A Skarlatidou. 2018. Usability engineering and evaluation. In: The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (Ed: J Wilson). University Consortium of Geographic Information Science. doi:10.22224/gistbok/2018.1.9
  • Ricker B and RE Roth. 2018. Mobile maps and responsive design. In: The Geographic Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge (Ed: J Wilson). University Consortium of Geographic Information Science. doi:10.22224/gistbok/2018.2.5
  • Roth RE. 2019. How do user-centered design studies contribute to cartography? Geografie, Special Issue from the 2018 Joint ICA Workshop on Atlases, Cognition, and Usability (Eds: P Kubíček and A Griffin). 124(2): 133-161. 
Timeline of Use Commission activities 2015-2019

Timeline of Use Commission activities 2015-2019

Progress towards the Terms of Reference: 2015−2019

1. Update and Maintain a Commission Website:

The UUUI commission launched a new website in 2016. The purpose of the website is to promote exchange of knowledge, news, and information on use, users, and usability in cartography, geo-information processing, and related topics. The new website uses WordPress drawing on style recommendations from the ICA template. All content on the prior website is archived on the new webpage. The website is accessible at http://use.icaci.org.

2. Maintain an Online Bibliography:

The UUUI commission launched an updated online bibliography in 2016. The bibliography collates research related to user studies in cartography for the purpose of sharing emerging research projects and facilitating graduate student research. Topics include: studies of user abilities and differences therein; use case studies with print, web-based, and mobile maps; map-based user interfaces (UI) and user experience (UX) design; user-centered design and usability engineering, as applied to map design and development; methods and techniques for evaluating products; the use of emerging mapping technologies. The bibliography is built on Zotero and is accessible online at https://use.icaci.org/bibliography/.

3. Develop a Review Paper from the Bibliographic Database:

The UUUI Commission along with the Commissions on Atlases and Cognitive Visualization organized a 2018 Joint ICA Workshop to discuss crosscutting research opportunities in cartography. The UUUI Commission contributed a review article on user-centered design methodology to a special issue from the workshop, drawing from the UUUI online bibliography. The paper will be published in a 2019 special issue of Geografie under the title “How do user-centered design studies contribute to cartography?” The UUUI Commission also contribute four peer-reviewed book chapters reviewing methods for user studies: three for the Geospatial Information Science & Technology Body of Knowledge titled “User-centered design and evaluation” and one for the Routledge Handbook of Mapping and Cartography titled “Understanding map uses and users”.

4. Generate an Online Reference for User Studies

The UUUI Commission continued discussion about the contents and structure for a handbook reference for user studies in cartography. The purpose of the handbook is to provide an overview of usability methods and techniques, including an FAQ, why/when to use the techniques, gold standards of experimental design, and tips for analysis and reporting. The handbook resource spans multiple terms of reference is a continued activity planned for 2019−2023.

5. Organize Sessions on User Studies at ICA Conferences

The UUUI Commission core group participated in the abstract review process and session organization for the 2017 and 2019 International Cartographic Conferences. The UUUI Commission accepted 21 papers for Washington, D.C., and 25 papers for Tokyo, although visa issues reduced the 2019 total to 17 papers. The UUUI Commission also participated in a special session in 2017 to introduce the collaborative research agenda, as discussed below.

6. International Training Workshops for Students and Non-specialists

The UUUI Commission organized six international workshops spanning four continents on use, user, and usability issues in cartography. These student and non-specialist sessions are included as additional, day-long events to other UUUI jointly held workshops. UUUI training workshops since the inaugural 2012 workshop in Columbus (USA) include Curitiba, Brazil (2015), Albena, Bulgaria (2016), Olomouc, Czechia (2018), and both Nanjing and Beijing, China (2019). Training material is accessible online for adaptation and reuse at: https://use.icaci.org/resources/modules-of-training-workshops/.

7. Special Issue Article on User Studies in Cartography

The UUUI Commission along with the Commissions on Cognitive Visualization, Map Design, and Visual Analytics organized a special issue on “Envisioning the Future of Cartographic Research” published in the International Journal of Cartography in 2017. The UUUI Commission participated in the planning of two workshops supporting the special issue, the first in Curitiba, Brazil (2015) and the second in San Francisco, USA (2016). The special issue comprises five research agendas on the topics of (1) ICA history and trends, (2) geospatial big data, (3) user studies in cartography, (4) map use contexts, and (5) persistent issues in geovisualization. The UUUI Commission led development of the title “User Studies in Cartography: Opportunities for empirical research on interactive maps and visualizations” and contributed to planning and editing of all articles in the special issue.

8. External Workshops

In addition to the ICC special sessions, international training workshops, and IJC special issue workshops listed above, the UUUI contributed to four additional external workshops promoted under the ICA umbrella.

  • Workshop on User Experience Design for Mobile Cartography: Setting the Agenda. 11-12 July 2019, Beijing, China. Organized jointly with the ICA Commission on Cognitive Visualization, Location-based Services, and Visual Analytics.
  • Workshop on Reproducibility in Cartography. 27 April 2018, Olmouc, Czechia. Organized jointly with the ICA Commission on Cognitive Visualization and the ISPRS Working Group IX/9: Geovisualization, Augmented & Virtual Reality.
  • Workshop on Lessons Learned from Volunteers’ Interactions with Geographic Citizen Science Applications. 12 December 2017, London, UK. Organized jointly with the European Union COST Action Program and the ISPRS Working Group V/3: Promotion of Regional Collaboration in Citizen Science & Geospatial Technology
  • 6th International Symposium on the History of Cartography. 13−14 October 2016, Dubovnik, Croatia. Organized jointly with the ICA Commissions on History of Cartography, Map Production, and Geoinformation Management.

9. Promote Students

The UUUI Commission maintains resources to involve young (PhD) and international researchers. To this end, the UUUI Commission maintains a list of PhD and faculty vacancies in the areas of user studies in cartography and geographic visualization, accessible at https://use.icaci.org/vacancies-phd-positions/ . The UUUI Commission also maintains a membership list to promote networking for junior scholars and information dissemination regarding commission activities, accessible at https://use.icaci.org/members-contact/.