Friday, 31 May 2013

Multimodal speech interfaces to GIS

Multimodal speech interfaces to GIS

Ken Sam's project invloves leveraging existing commercial off the shelf (COTS) web-GIS component and open specification Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) as building blocks for creating a multimodal web-GIS application. In this paper, we will address how the different technology components were applied for creating a multimodal interfaces for the navigation, interaction and feedback for the web-based GIS application.

Screen caputure of Voice-enabled multimodal WebGIS application interface
Speech driven GIS interface
In most computing and information technology environment, data is presented in either text or graphic format as a means of conveying information to the end users. This has been the traditional paradigm of data display and visualization in the computing world. Efforts have been made in the software industry to design better navigation interfaces for software products and improve on the overall user-friendliness of the products. With geospatial data, additional dimensions are introduced in the presentation and display of the data. Because of the added complexity of geospatial data, there are a number of researches that are still on-going in trying to improve on the interface, visualization and interpretation of geospatial data. One can normally expect geospatial data to be viewed or interpreted by a normal-vision user without much challenge. Yet, visualization and navigation of map is a huge challenge for people who are visually impaired. The design and usability of GIS applications has traditionally been tailored to keyboard and mouse interaction in an office environment. To help with the visualization of geospatial data and navigation of a GIS application, this project presents the result of a prototype application that incorporates voice as another mode of interacting with a web-GIS application. While voice is not a replacement for the mouse and keyboard interface, it can act as an enhancement or augmentation to improve the accessibility and usability of an application. The multimodal approach of combining voice with other user interface for navigation and data presentation is beneficial to the interpretation and visualization of geospatial data and make GIS easier to use for all users.

Publications
Jacobson, R.D., and Sam, K. (2006) Multimodal Web-GIS: AugmentingMap Navigation and Spatial Data Visualization with Voice Control, AutoCarto 2006, June 26-28, Electronic Proceedings.

Multimodal zooming in digital geographic information

As a basic research issue, how well can people integrate and reconcile spatial information from various modalities, and how useful is such integration?

As an applied issue, what is the potential for haptic and auditory navigation within geographic information systems? Can visual information be augmented by the presentation of information via other modalities, namely, haptics and audition, and if so, to what extent?

The research will investigate a particular form of navigation within geographic information systems, namely, zooming. The research aims to investigate non-visual methods of representing or augmenting a visual zoom through the auditory and haptic senses, creating a multimodal zooming mechanism.

Transcending the Digital Divide

The purpose of this research is to develop, evaluate, and disseminate a non-visual interface for accessing digital information. The aim is to investigate the perceptual and cognitive problems that blind people face when trying to interpret information provided in a multimodal manner. The project also plans to provide touch sensitive and sound based network interface and navigation devices that incorporate cognitive wayfinding heuristics. Haptic (force feedback) interfaces will be provided for exploring web pages that consist of map, graphic, iconic or image products. Sound identifiers for on-screen windowed, map, and image information will also be provided. These tasks will contribute to transcending the Digital Divide that increasingly separates blind or vision impaired people from the growing information-based workplace. Recent research at UCSB has begun to explore how individuals identify features presented through sound and touch. Other research (e.g. O'Modhrrain and Gillespie, 1998; McKinley and Scott, 1998) have used haptics to explore screen objects such as windows, pulldown menus, buttons, and sliders; but map, graphic and other cartographic representations have not been explored. In particular, the potential of auditory maps of on-screen phenomena (e.g. as would be important in GIS applications) has barely been examined and few examples exist of combining audio and touch principles to build an interface. While imaginative efforts to build non-visual interfaces have been proceeding. there is a yet little empirical evidence that people without sight can use them effectively (i.e. develop a true representation of the experienced phenomena). Experiments will be undertaken to test the ability of vision impaired and sighted people from different age groups to use these new interface or features such as: (i) the haptic mouse or a touch window tied to auditory communication displays; (ii) digitized real sounds to indicate environmental features at their mapped locations; (iii) "sound painting" of maps, images, or charts to indicate gradients of phenomena like temperature, precipitation, pressure, population density and altitude. Tests will be developed to evaluate (i) the minimum resolvable area for the haptic interpretation of scenes; (ii) the development of skills for shape tracing in the sound or the force-feedback haptic domain, (iii) the possibility of using continuous or discreet sound symbols associated with touch sensitive pads to learn hierarchically nested screen information (e.g. locations of cities within regions within states within nations); (iv) to evaluate how dynamic activities such as scrolling, zooming, and searching can be conducted in the haptic or auditory domain, (v) to evaluate people's comprehension and ability to explore, comprehend, and make inferences about various non-visual interpretations of complex visual displays (e.g. maps and diagrams), and (vi) to explore the effectiveness of using a haptic mouse with a 2" square motion domain to search a 14" screen (i.e. scale effects).

Off-Route Strategies in Non-Visual Navigation

The project addresses the effects of learning method on route comprehension of visually impaired people, and it will determine if changes in geographic scale alter the effectiveness of selected learning media. An understanding of how different methods of learning affect route comprehension will allow current spatial knowledge acquisition theory and orientation and mobility training to be assessed and, if necessary, improved. Traversing space is one of the most cognitively demanding tasks faced by visually impaired people, and often invokes fear of being lost or disorientated. For these reasons there is a need to identify effective strategies of spatial learning that can contribute to the mobility and quality of life of visually impaired people. In the first experiment 24 visually impaired people will learn three short routes across a University campus (in counterbalanced order). Each route will be learned using a different learning method. The 24 subjects will be divided into 4 groups who will learn the route in a different order. The 3 conditions will be (1) pointing to places along the route, (2) making a map of the route, and (3) verbally describing the route. A further (control) group of ten visually impaired subjects will learn the route without any given strategy. Each trial will be video recorded. The three strategies selected are "off-route" strategies. Participants' route learning performance will be measured in several ways: the number of trials required to achieve successful route learning; number of errors made; types of errors; self-reported confidence measures; and assessment by independent judges of performance, hesitancy, and confidence. In the second experiment, 16 participants will learn a route 1.4 miles long through a complex urban environment. Participants will be divided into two conditions. In the first condition, they will learn the route using the most successful strategy from Experiment 1. In the second condition, they will learn the route using no given strategy. Sample sizes in both experiments are relatively small due to the difficulty of recruiting visually impaired participants, but the number of participants and number of trials will be greater than in previous experiments of way-finding and therefore should provide definitive results. By collecting data in a small-scale (university campus) and a large-scale environment (suburban neighborhood) we may find that spatial knowledge acquisition focuses on different cognition tasks at different scales. For the development of an effective orientation and mobility training program, these tasks may be operationalized via one or more simple geographic-based environmental learning procedures. The research addresses important theoretical questions relating to spatial learning and cognition, providing further insights into how visually impaired people construct, store, and utilize spatial knowledge. In so doing, it will address practical issues relating to the improvement of current orientation and mobility training.

PUBLICATIONS

Blades, M., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., and Kitchin, R.M. (2002) Wayfinding by people with visual impairments: The effect of spatial tasks on the ability to learn a novel route. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 96, 407-419.
Link here

Jacobson, R.D., Lippa, Y., Golledge, R.G., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2001) Rapid development of cognitive maps in people with visual impairments when exploring novel geographic spaces. IAPS Bulletin of People-Environment Studies (Special Issue on Environmental Cognition) 18, 3-6.
Link here

Golledge, R.G., Jacobson, R.D., Kitchin, R.M., and Blades, M. (2000). Cognitive maps, spatial abilities, and human wayfinding. Geographical Review of Japan, ser. B: The English journal of the Association of Japenese Geographers, 73 (Ser.B) (2), 93-104.
Link Here

PARTNERS

Department of Geography, University of California at Santa Barbarba, USA
Department of Psychology, University of California at Santa Barbarba, USA
Department of Geography, Florida State University, USA
Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK
Department of Geography, National University of Maynooth, Ireland

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Book Publication: Mining and Natural Hazard Vulnerability in the Philippines: Digging to development or digging to disaster?



 

Back Cover Information
 _____________________
 "This text provides an exhaustive and engaging review of the literature surrounding issues of development in the Philippines. Holden and Jacobson leave no stone unturned as they uncover some of the most detrimental effects of modern mining practices on the surrounding natural environment and human communities."
- Professor Kathleen Nadeau, California State University, San Bernardino
 
____________________
"This book speaks well of mining disasters that are accelerated and amplified by natural hazards in the Philippines such as typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. I recommend this superb work to the general public and readers of specific interest on mining especially those with similar situations in their own countries."
Dr Emelina Regis, Director of the Institute for Environmental Conservation
and Research, Ateneo de Naga University

_______________

"Empirically grounded and theoretically informed, Holden and Jacobsen provide a compelling and powerful study of the hazards of neoliberalism and of environmental politics more broadly." — Dr James Tyner, Professor of Geography, Kent State University

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The archipelago of the Philippines is well endowed with nonferrous mineral resources, and in recent years the Filipino government, acting under the influence of the dominant and seemingly ubiquitous neoliberal development paradigm, has liberalized its mining laws in order to accelerate economic development. Yet the Philippines is also a country highly prone to a variety of natural hazards - including earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, typhoons and El  Nino-induced droughts - that have the ability to interact adversely with mining's potential for environmental degradation. Thus, there are great dangers inherent in pursuing such a development paradigm: earthquakes can destabilize tailings storage facilities, typhoons can  flood tailings ponds, and mine-pit dewatering can enhance the competition for groundwater resources during droughts. This study explores how these hazards amplify the environmental harm prevalent in mining, and reveals the substantial threat they pose to the livelihoods of the archipelago's poor - who are dependent upon subsistence agriculture and subsistence aquaculture - as well as the inadequacies of the institutions designed to protect their environment.
 __________________


Supporting Accessibility for Blind and Vision-impaired People With a Localized Gazetteer and Open Source Geotechnology

Rice, M.T., Aburizaiza, A.O, Jacobson,R.D, Shore , B.M., and Paez. F I.  (2012). Supporting Accessibility for Blind and Vision-impaired People With a Localized Gazetteer and Open Source Geotechnology. Transactions in GIS 16 (2):177-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9671.2012.01318.x
Abstract
Disabled people, especially the blind and vision-impaired, are challenged by many transitory hazards in urban environments such as construction barricades, temporary fencing across walkways, and obstacles along curbs. These hazards present a problem for navigation, because they typically appear in an unplanned manner and are seldom included in databases used for accessibility mapping. Tactile maps are a traditional tool used by blind and vision-impaired people for navigation through urban environments, but such maps are not automatically updated with transitory hazards. As an alternative approach to static content on tactile maps, we use volunteered geographic information (VGI) and an Open Source system to provide
updates of local infrastructure. These VGI updates, contributed via voice, text message, and e-mail, use geographic descriptions containing place names to describe changes to the local environment. After they have been contributed and stored in a database, we georeference VGI updates with a detailed gazetteer of local place names including buildings, administrative offices, landmarks, roadways, and dormitories. We publish maps and alerts showing transitory hazards, including location-based alerts delivered to mobile devices. Our system is built with several technologies including PHP, JavaScript, AJAX, Google Maps API, PostgreSQL, an Open Source database, and PostGIS, the PostgreSQL’s spatial extension. This article provides insight into the integration of user-contributed geospatial information into a comprehensive system for use by the blind and vision-impaired, focusing on currently developed methods for geoparsing and georeferencing using a gazetteer.

Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala and the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor

Holden, W. N. and Jacobson, R.D. (2011) Ecclesial Opposition to Nonferrous Metals Mining in Guatemala and the Philippines: Neoliberalism Encounters the Church of the Poor. In Brunn S. (ed.) Engineering Earth, Volume 3 pp 383-411, Springer Netherlands.

Abstract

In recent years, as a result of the prevailing neoliberal development paradigm and the influence of the World Bank, many countries in the developing world have liberalized their mining laws to attract investment into their economies. In both Guatemala and the Philippines, governments have revised mining laws in an attempt to encourage more investment. This chapter discusses the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the neoliberal policies enacted by the governments of those countries to encourage the extraction of nonferrous metals by multinational corporations. The chapter begins with a discussion of the countries’ mineral
resources (and efforts of the respective governments to encourage mining), and then discusses the ecclesial opposition to mining in the two countries; the chapter concludes with a discussion of how neoliberalism is encountering the church of the poor. This research finds its home within the discipline of geography, as one of
human geography’s core areas is the relationship between people and their environment, and conflicts about mining are conflicts about different understandings of human-nature relationships.


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