ways2go, 4. Call (2011)

MOVING

Railway stations are becoming more and more multifunctional, from a central hub for public and long distance transportation up to shopping malls. This situation fosters the development of several different competing guiding systems. Especially for people unfamiliar with the infrastructure an understandable, well accented and consistent guiding system is crucial. To develop such, it is required to understand what kind of information is used to navigate and how these can be identified and provided during the planning phase of a station. By the novel combination of a virtual reality environment (DAVE) and simulation models gaps and problems in the guiding system can be identified beforehand and be optimized iteratively.

Railway stations are becoming more and more multifunctional, from a central hub for public and long distance transportation up to shopping malls. This situation fosters the development of several different competing guiding systems. The resulting complexity of junctions of mass public transport leads to increased disorientation, subjective uncertainties and subsequently poses psychological mobility barriers.
These aspects need to be fully taken into account already in the planning phase, as late changes carry high costs. To this end it is important to understand, how people interact with their environment and how different, new media and information sources influence the orientation and navigation behavior.
By way of contrast currently the design of guidance systems still treats the built environment, visual guiding systems and mobile information mostly separated, which no longer represents real usage behaviour. How this development influences the usage patterns and what demands this poses for future guiding systems are the main questions which are investigated in MOVING both from a methodological perspective as well as a research question.
The main goal of MOVING thus is the development of a method for the evaluation of guiding systems and navigation solutions in public infrastructures tailored to the needs mostly of persons unaccustomed to the infrastructure.
The immersive virtual environment DAVE at TU Graz offers the opportunity to perform case studies in the context of complex infrastructures testing alternative scenarios of information provision. The extension of the DAVE by including an eye-tracking system opens up new opportunities of the investigation of the effects of alternative combinations of different media and their spatial placement. In this way the understanding of the multidimensionality of the perception of information and usage patterns can be enhanced allowing for the development of an empirically well founded attention model.
As experiments with large infrastructures in the DAVE still pose a significant temporal demand, the empirical development of landmarks as well as the evaluation of potential gaps in the guiding systems must be enhanced by simulations. Current simulation programs contain only coarse representations of human perception. In this respect the attention model
serves in order to investigate information uptake and compilation, as well as strategies for wayfinding in unknown environments and subsequently to device an improved cognitive model in pedestrian simulations. Using this pedestrian simulation models it is possible to analyze a multitude of scenarios, evaluate the information provision for given landmarks, and to identify regions with too view or too much guiding information.
Via iteration between experiments in the DAVE and simulations planners and infrastructure managers obtain a methodology to develop, test and evaluate in a cost effective and goal oriented manner guiding systems in a virtual yet realistic environment taking into account future users and customers. By way of an interdisciplinary and multi-perspective procedure of all involved parties the basis for measures for the improvement can be designed and evaluated.
The final result of the project will be summarized in a guideline containing the results of the investigations and the corresponding deduced elemental laws of building orientation as a specification of the respective rulebooks, as well as in the extension of existing graphical standards on mobile indoor-navigation. The guideline is seen as support for planners of guiding systems as well as infrastructure managers. In particular the inclusion of the architect of the guiding system in the new Viennese “Hauptbahnhof” and the Austrian Federal Railways as project partners guarantees a customer oriented approach.

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