Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualization

Mental Maps

4608.3 - Understanding how Brazilian urban planners define and represent public spaces based on their knowledge schemata

Tuesday, July 4
3:30 PM - 3:50 PM
Location: Maryland C

Understanding the knowledge schemata of urban planners is possible if we develop an interdisciplinary research approach that involves cartography and urbanism. To better understand the usual representations of the dynamics of urban areas, we have developed a study that aims to identify the knowledge schemata of urban planners when they define and set geographic limits of urban public spaces. We compared their knowledge schemata to cartographic representations they use to propose an urban design and plan. We designed the research method in two steps. The first step was the identification of the concepts that play a role as variables in the propositional schemata. We determined these concepts by interviewing urban planners. The second step was related to the image schemata of the urban planners when they define urban public space. We used maps, images, and their propositional schemes, to prepare a questionnaire. To understand the relationship between propositional and image schemata in cartographic representations of public spaces, we compared the variables of the propositional schemes to the map features that represent public spaces. We then verified which elements of the public space concept are usually represented in maps and how much they match the maps’ feature classifications. The results of the first set of interviews made it possible to build an ontology of urban public space. The analyses of how the urban planners describe urban public space allowed us to learn that, in general, the definition of public space starts with the difference between public versus private. After defining the concept of public, the urban planners related it to the kinds of urban land use. However, the differences among individuals’ propositional schemes suggest that the urban planners define public spaces from their experiences. From the results of the second set of interviews, we understand that the concept of public space is a consequence of the urban planners need for setting geographic limits when they define urban land uses or zones in a municipal master plan. The geographic limits define the boundaries between private and public land. The urban land use can be defined where it can be private, and therefore not public, which can be established in some urban zones. The results of comparing the propositional scheme variables and the elements of the image scheme showed us that propositional schemes of public spaces are defined by more variables than we can see represented in the maps used by urban planners. When urban planners define public spaces, they use free spaces and vegetation areas more often them services places. However, the latter are often emphasized in their thematic maps. By identifying what features are represented as public spaces in maps and their relationship with the concepts of the propositional schemata of urban planners, we have concluded that the cartographic representations are simpler than the propositional schemata. This simplification can lead to a level of uncertainty in the results of spatial analyses, which are the basis for proposing urban designs or plans. In conclusion, our hypothesis that urban planners define and set geographic limits of public places in accordance with their professional experiences has been confirmed by the answers to the first round of interviews. However, our hypothesis that the cartographic representation matches the urban planners’ propositional schemata was not confirmed. Therefore, the comprehension of what should be represented in maps for urban planners to match their propositional schemata could help cartographers to design and build maps that fulfill their role in the urban planning process.

Claudia R. Sluter

Federal University of Parana - UFPR

Bachelor at Cartographic Engineering from Federal University of Paraná - UFPR (1986). Master at Geodetic Science from Federal University of Paraná - UFPR (1993). Doctorate at Computer Science from National Institute for Space Research - INPE (2000). Sandwich doctorate at Geography Department of the University of Kansas (1998). I am currently full professor at Federal University of Paraná - UFPR. I teach and research on the following subjects: geovisualization, thematic mapping, cartographic generalization, topographic mapping, interactive map design, and GIS.


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Melissa M. Yamada

Federal University of Paraná

Melissa Yamada is an architect and urban planner at the Federal University of Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil.


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Amy L. Griffin

Senior Lecturer
UNSW Canberra

Dr. Amy Griffin is a Senior Lecturer in Geography at UNSW Canberra. She is currently a co-chair of the ICA Commission on Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualization (CogVIS). Her research interests include investigating cognitive and perceptual processes involved in using maps, information visualizations and other forms of geospatial information.


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4608.3 - Understanding how Brazilian urban planners define and represent public spaces based on their knowledge schemata

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