Interactive Visualisations of Urban Lifestyles

Designing for reflection, foresight & behaviour change

ICRI post

How can we design interactive visualisations that encourage reflection, offer foresight and support behaviour change? Lisa Koeman‘s research looks into the visualisation of urban lifestyles.

In order to make data easier to analyse, graphics have long been used to depict textual and numerical data visually. The use of visualisations has many advantages compared to the presentation of raw data. Not only are people far quicker when interpreting visual cues as opposed to textual and numerical data, people are also able to interpret many such cues simultaneously [1].

In addition, visualisations can reveal patterns and outliers that, for human beings, are far more difficult to spot in the raw data. This is especially the case if the visualisation allows interaction, thereby enabling the user to play around with the data and to explore different representations. Card et al. [2] define such information visualisations as “computer-supported, interactive, visual representations of data to amplify cognition”.

Visualisations can not only support companies, governments and other institutions with activities like decision- and policy-making, on a more personal level visualisations also have great potential for individuals, families and communities.

The emergence of personal informatics systems, that allow people to keep track of one or more facets of their life, has led to an increase of such personal visualisations. However, most focus on representing single issues — lifestyle visualisations are barely explored. Thus, many questions surrounding the representation of lifestyles are so far left unanswered: how can we visualise holistic urban lifestyles? How can visualisations help sustain behaviour change? How can we support reflection and offer foresight? How can we connect communities using interactive visualisations?

[1] B. Zhu and H. Chen. Information visualization. Annual review of information science and technology, 39(1):139–177, 2005.
[2] S. Card, J. Mackinlay, and B. Shneiderman, Readings in information visualization: using vision to think. Morgan Kaufmann, 1999.