Beyond Visualization: Designing Interfaces to Contextualize Geospatial Data

Luescher, S. "Beyond Visualization: Designing Interfaces to Contextualize Geospatial Data"


The growing sensor data collections about our environment have the potential to drastically change our perception of the fragile world we live in. To make sense of such data, we commonly use visualization techniques, enabling public discourse and analysis. This thesis describes the design and implementation of a series of interactive systems that integrate geospatial sensor data visualization and terrain models with various user interface modalities in an educational context to support data analysis and knowledge building using part-digital, part-physical rendering.

The main contribution of this thesis is a concrete application scenario and initial prototype of a "Designed Environment" where we can explore the relationship between the surface of Japan's islands, the tension that originates in the fault lines along the seafloor beneath its east coast, and the resulting natural disasters. The system is able to import geospatial data from a multitude of sources on the "Spatial Web", bringing us one step closer to a tangible "dashboard of the Earth."

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