Jay Fowler is currently finishing his master’s degree at the University of South Carolina. His project is examining ways to visually imply uncertainty in point symbols on scientific displays. More specfically, Jay is using human subjects testing as a way to empirically evaluate the effectiveness of fourteen different approaches to uncertainty visualization. But why read my summary when you can read his:
CARTOGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION OF POINT LEVEL UNCERTAINTY
By: Jay Fowler
People seeking information to guide their learning, understanding, and decision-making frequently come into contact with data of varying degrees of reliability. This is unavoidable as uncertainty is inherent in information. Because of this fact, decision support communities are calling for data certainty visualizations to improve communication and decision-making in the face of uncertainty. The problem is that little is known about the best way to depict data and its certainty visually. My work focuses on finding ‘best’ methods for depicting two variables (drought and data certainty) at point locations though the use of symbols. These symbols show drought condition through color, and manipulate a separate characteristic to show data certainty. In total, fourteen symbols were designed based upon ideas found in cartographic literature. Two separate studies were conducted to evaluate the overall performance of the designed symbols through surveys. The first study was a comprehensive evaluation of the intuitive communicative abilities of the fourteen proposed symbol strategies. The six highest performing symbols were then tested in a second study which placed these symbols on maps. This research generated and reported comprehensive empirical findings that indicate effective symbolization strategies for communicating information andits underlying certainty on maps.