Temporality in the Interaction Design of Information Systems

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: ABSTRACT This thesis contributes with two tools that can be used by designers and researchers in exploring how to address time in the design of crisis response and management information systems. By crisis management information system is here meant information systems used by local and regional authorities when responding to events that may disturb important societal functions, such as: floods, storms, terror attacks, and spreading of infectious diseases. Crisis management information systems need to consider temporality - that is, different aspects of time - because crises are dynamic and changing over time. An information system may be intended to support the coordination of crisis response activities, situation awareness, time-critical decision making, or the visualisation of crisis related information. All these elements depend on time. The issue is how to consider these diverse aspects of time when creating an interface for a crisis management information system. This thesis explores time from an interaction design perspective and contributes with the following tools providing support in the design work: 1) A set of design principles for temporality. The design principles highlight a number of issues of how crisis management information systems support different characteristics of time. The design principles address some aspects of: how temporal information is presented in an information system, and how to consider the temporality of the behaviour of the information system. 2) One thought model supporting exploration of temporality in information system design. The thought model is a foundation for reflecting on how time may influence the use of an information system and what design issues this may lead to. The design principles and thought model are based on three studies, which together include participants from local, regional, and national crisis management. The first two studies used individual and group interviews for data collection, and produced a set of tentative design principles for temporality. The third study assessed and improved the design principles based on two national crisis management systems. The thought model is based on a synthesis of the overall outcome from the three studies. The intended audience for this thesis is any researcher or designer looking for a structured way to approach temporality in the design of crisis management information systems. Both the design principles and the thought model can be used to explore temporality irrespective of whether an objective or subjective perspective is used on time.

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