Reassessing Underlying Spatial Relations in Pedestrian Navigation: A Comparison Between Sketch Maps and Verbal Descriptions

Reassessing Underlying Spatial Relations in Pedestrian Navigation: A Comparison Between Sketch Maps and Verbal Descriptions

Jia Wang (University of Greenwich, UK) and Rui Li (University at Albany (SUNY), USA & Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5396-0.ch003
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This chapter assesses underlying spatial relations for pedestrian wayfinding by examining navigational directions given in both forms of sketch maps and verbal descriptions. An experiment was conducted to investigate characteristics of navigational directions provided by participants in the form of sketch maps and verbal descriptions. The authors were specifically interested in the landmarks and spatial relationships such as route topology, linear order relation, and relative orientation extracted from the navigational directions. A new ontological approach to sketch and verbal interpretations was adopted for spatial analysis. The results pointed to the advantage of including sketch components into pedestrian navigation systems over solely turn-by-turn instructions. In addition, the results showed the differences between visual and verbal directions, which suggest the necessity of having different levels of directions for giving specific types of navigational instructions.
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We review related work in three aspects: sequenced-based (or turn-by-turn) navigational directions and spatial knowledge acquisition, sketch maps and cognitive maps, and existing approaches to sketch interpretation and representation.

Giving Directions

Almost all directions given by existing pedestrian navigation systems are sequence-based, which facilitate the ease of navigation but greatly degrade a person’s development of their spatial knowledge. The problem is that when a pedestrian follows a specific route guidance, the configurational understanding of his/her walking environment is not acquired. For example, empirical investigations suggest that directions generated by navigation devices hinter users from learning their immediate surroundings and impact their acquisition of spatial knowledge at the configurational level (Parush, Ahuvia, & Erev, 2007). The lack of configurational knowledge can cause disorientation when a navigation device does not work (Krüger, Aslan, & Zimmer, 2004). Such impact is also suggested in other studies (see Bertel et al., 2017; Ishikawa et al., 2008; Wang & Worboys 2016; Willis et al., 2009).

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