Supporting group work in crisis management: Visually mediated human - GIS - Human dialogue

Alan M. MacEachren, Guoray Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Geospatial information is a fundamental component of many crisis management activities. However, current geospatial technologies do not support work by crisis management personnel, most of whom are not technology specialists - a key impediment is that the technologies require the user to learn the system's language. In addition, geospatial technologies are not 'collaboration friendly' - they impede rather than facilitate group work. In this paper we address both issues by presenting (1) a theoretical framework for understanding the roles of visual mediation in map-supported human - human dialogues, and (2) a computational approach for enabling such roles in collaborative spatial decisionmaking contexts. Building upon our initial implementation of a map-mediated collaborative environment, the DAVE_G system [a natural, multimodal, dialogue-enabled interface to geographical information systems (GIS)], we model human - GIS and human - GIS - human dialogues as complex visual-cognitive signification processes in which maps become dynamic facilitators. Using a scenario simulating two crisis managers dealing with a major nuclear release event, we demonstrate how visual display (in DAVE_G) actively mediates human - human dialogue directed to situation assessment and action planning in real applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-456
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironment and Planning B: Planning and Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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