UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Design of a geographical visualization-based interface for a community academic knowledge exchange Augustine, Billy Selvaseelan


Bridging the existing divide between the members of the DTES community and academic research was the overarching motivation in this research project. With the members of the DTES community as the primary users, an easily accessible map-based visual interface was planned and designed as an alternative point of entry to the existing Downtown Eastside Research Access Portal (DTES-RAP) to access community-based research. The author commenced the research by conducting a literature review to study the theories of community-based research that corresponded to the goals of the research. Here, journal articles dealing with aspects of community engagement, cultural sensitivity, geographic visualization, community mapping, searching as learning were among those that were studied. Following this study, textual analysis was done on journal articles about the DTES that were available through the DTES-RAP, to bring out locational references and main topic areas addressed in each study. An iterative design-based approach with stages such as empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test, was adopted. The resulting connections between organizations, authors and topics were represented in a map-based visual interface, designed to promote learning through exploration. Following the prototyping stage, a pilot study of the interactive version of the interface was conducted with graduate students of the University of British Columbia. On receiving the approval of the UBC Behavioural Research Ethics Board, a small-scale usability study was conducted with the members of the DTES community to evaluate the current design and identify areas for improvement. Some conclusions have been drawn and recommendations made based on the knowledge gained through this study.

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