Camille Celone

Atlas

Atlas is a distributed, web-based application for the discovery,
visualization, and analysis of multi-dimensional geospatial data.

Problem

Current data visualization tools do not offer effective design solutions for usability issues posed by the complex relationship between spatial and numeric data.

Objective

Design an interface that offers users visual representations of both spatial and numeric data on a single screen and provide the ability to manipulate the relationship between the two visualizations at any point.

Role

User Interface Designer

Challenge One – Appearance Alteration

Appearance Problem

Users are unable to customize the visual representation of geospatial data to match their needs when conducting analyses of the data.

Appearance Objective

Create a design element or elements that allow users to alter various features of appearance and time series in a settings panel.

Assumptions

  • Users have previous knowledge of geospatial data, variables, and attributes.
  • Users will need to alter the visual representation of data by appearance and time series.

Define Features

Determine features users would need when attempting to alter the visual appearance of spatial data.

Organize Features

Break down necessary features into various groups to determine the titles and content for a series of panels that users can access that allow them to change the appearance of the map.

Sketch

Brainstorm ways to display appearance editing features on screen in a way that does not obstruce the view of the map.

Design Interface

Use various sketches to determine a design for an appearance editing interface that will be accessible at any time but does not hinder interactions with the map.


Design offers option for users to collapse the editing panels when they are not in use and provide multiple panels for editing different types of information on the map.

Create Final Design

Further edit the content of the editing panels and provide more editing options based on the dataset that is loaded into Atlas.

Challenge Two – Dual Visualizations

Dual Visualization Problem

There are currently no data visualization tools that allow users to view maps and graphs in the same interface. This makes data discovery challenging as users mush switch back and forth between maps and graphs to view all necessary data.

Dual Visualization Objective

Design an interface that allows users to view maps and graphs of the same data set to aid in data discovery.

Dual Visualization Assumptions

  • Users have previous knowledge of geospatial data, variables, and attributes.
  • Users will need to access various types of data visualizations including maps, line graphs, and histograms.

Results

After many iterations, an interface was designed that allowed users to select specific data within the map and view that data in a line graph that is shown on the same screen as the map. Users can add more data points to an existing graph and view statistical values for each data point.



Upcoming

A usability study will be performed to evaluate the performance of the Atlas interface as a tool for data discovery among college-level students and professors.

Challenges

Multidisciplinary Users

Atlas was created at The Center for Robust Decisionmaking on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP) which employs high schools, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students as well as professionals. People are from various fields of study such as economics, physical and computer sciences, energy technologies, law, and mathematics.


Working with and for people with such varying educational and technical backgrounds often proved challenging. People for different fields all want Atlas to display different information so it best suits their needs. Determining how to design an interface that works across disciplines was, and continues to be, a question the Atlas team is trying to answer.

Management Changes

Over the course of Atlas’ lifetime, there have been two major management changes. These changes have led Atlas is different directions which has caused challenges with completing tasks fully. Because Atlas will be used by people from various fields, management changes have brought new ideas based on the backgrounds of each manager.


Certain features have been placed on hold while others have been prioritized based on the functionality new managers feel will be the most beneficial. Then, when management changes, prioritized features also change. This has made it difficult to design and develop any feature to completion.