Tangible tabletops for emergency response: an exploratory study
Paper in proceedings, 2013
Effective handling of location-based data is important to emergency response management (ERM). Expert team members co-located around maps typically discuss events while drawing freeform areas or while using physical placeholders representing incidents. Key ERM functions are filtering data, selecting information recipients, searching datasets, drawing time-dependent freeform areas, and zooming in on one region while leaving others unchanged. Under time pressure the mouse and keyboard could be insufficient; intuitive graspable solutions, such as tangible user interfaces (TUIs), may be better suited for ERM. We present CoTracker, a tangible tabletop system with expected potential for ERM teamwork. On an interactive map expert team members can discuss an operational picture using TUIs like bricks, frames, and pens. With the participation of domain experts for cognitive walk-through studies, we examined how generic and specialized TUIs can support ERM-related functions. We present some insights into the design of ERM-focused tangible tabletops.