Evaluating the usability of a tool for visualizing the uncertainty of the future global water balance
Cartography and Geographic Information Science
We describe the development of software that is intended to enable decision makers (and their scientific advisors) to visualize uncertainties associated with the future global water balance. This is an important task because the future water balance is a function of numerous factors that are not precisely known, including the historical climatology, the model of potential evapotranspiration, the soil water holding capacity, and the global circulation models (GCMs) used to predict the effect of increased CO2 in the atmosphere. In developing the software, we utilized the principles of usability engineering. In our case, we utilized six steps: prototype development, evaluation by domain experts, software revision, evaluation by usability experts, software revision, and evaluation by decision makers. Although this approach led to an improved piece of software, decision makers should have been involved earlier in the software design process, possibly at step two (instead of the domain experts). Decision makers found the notion of uncertainty discomforting, but their positive comments regarding the software suggest that it could prove beneficial, especially with improvements in spatial and temporal resolution. One interesting characteristic of our approach was the utilization of a wall-size display measuring 25 × 6 feet. The wall-size display engendered great interest, but determining whether it is truly effective will require a study that directly compares it with more traditional approaches.
Slocum, T. A.,
Cliburn, D. C.,
Feddema, J. J.,
Miller, J. R.
Evaluating the usability of a tool for visualizing the uncertainty of the future global water balance.
Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 30(4), 299–317.