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Trust in web geographical information systems for public participation

Skarlatidou, A.; (2012) Trust in web geographical information systems for public participation. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Maps have a long history in the communication of spatial information, yet Web Geographical Information Systems (Web GIS) expanded map use to a wide variety of contexts and to include people who do not have knowledge of spatial and GIS issues (non- experts). This non-expert interaction with Web GIS generates Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) implications. While such HCI elements as usability attracted the attention of GIS research, additional HCI aspects, such as trust, were overlooked. The significance of trust in non-expert interaction with Web GIS becomes more apparent as these tools are used to engage the public at different levels of public participation. The public participation literature suggests that when Information and Communication Technology (ICT) mediums such as Web GIS are used to engage the public, it is essential that they improve public knowledge and trust. This thesis researches how this can be achieved, using the case of the site selection of a nuclear waste repository in the UK. Firstly, the thesis presents an HCI-based investigation of existing Web GIS applications to understand the functional and perceptual attributes that influence non-experts' trust perceptions and introduces a set of trust guidelines. These guidelines inform the development and design of the PE-Nuclear tool, a Web GIS to inform lay people about the site selection process of a nuclear waste repository in the UK. Secondly, the Mental Models approach is used to support the development of the PE-Nuclear tool's information content based on lay people's mental models, needs and expectations. Finally, the tool is evaluated to investigate separately whether the trust guidelines and the information content improve public trust and knowledge. The research findings and methodological framework provide a holistic approach for the development of Web GIS applications, which have the potential to enhance public knowledge and help non-experts develop rational trust perceptions, protecting them from unethical and inappropriate use of the technology. It is essential to further note that this research thesis supported the identification of critical gaps and methodological implications that should inform future GIS research, especially of an HCI character. Last but not least due to the multidisciplinary nature of this research, the scientific knowledge gained contributes to other fields such as Risk Communication, Public Participation, but also provides important lessons to inform the current Nuclear Waste Management Programme in the UK.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Trust in web geographical information systems for public participation
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Computer Science

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