Case Study for Usability Engineering Examination:
Background: Smart City Interfaces
The concept of Smart Cities involves IT infrastructure such as wireless networks and mobile and public use interfaces, shared public data around topics such as transport, environment, business or health and active citizen engagement. Smart City technology involves both monitoring and management systems aimed at professionals in Local Authorities, health services, water management and so an as well as systems aimed at active citizens. The case study is about topics in usability engineering for a potential Smart City project based in Swansea.
1- Example Smart City Design
You should apply a range of techniques of Usability Engineering, such as Task Analysis and application of Human Factors theory to an interface design for your chosen Smart City concept example for Swansea. You should present sketches of your prototype interface. Concentrate on a specific area, for example:
Traffic management interface: this could be an in car and roadside display system to warn drivers of congestion or pollution and suggest a better route.
Public transport interface: if you are at the Mount Pleasant campus and your bus to Llansamlet os delayed this system could suggest alternatives such as bus, taxi or car share via a mobile phone interface.
Health: you have toothache but are not registered at a dentist. A phone based interface could help you. Shoppers could be directed to ingredients fitting with their diet plan when buying food or eating out in the city. Or you could be directed to fun places to exercise after your day in University and your exercise plan could be monitored and posted on social networks.
An interface for a smart sensor system could aid users and managers of infrastructure such as the water, gas or electricity networks in assessing demand and finding problems such as leaks.
You will need to use a range of Usability resources for this topic, but see especially your notes on Task Analysis and Human Factors. For some general information on Smart Cities, see the IBM and CISCO resources (but remember to concentrate on interface features).
2- Usability Guidelines and Accessibility
Applying usability guidelines is an important step in ensuring the ease of use of systems. You should apply a set of usability guidelines such as Dix’s to the Smart City Scenario and evaluate their usefulness is this new context. Specific examples of interface features for any aspect of Smart City technology applied to Swansea need to be given here. The accessibility of the Smart City tools provided is important, both to comply with legislation and to make sure the enhanced opportunities are available to all citizens. A challenge here is that many accessibility guidelines are Web based, so their applicability to mobile tools needs to be investigated.
Use your notes on Guidelines and accessibility to get started on the topic. Key resources are Dix’s guidelines and the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.
3- Evaluation of Smart City Interfaces
You should be familiar with a range of usability evaluation techniques. Consider how these could be applied to the range of tools for a Smart City project based in Swansea. A particular issue in Usability research is the evaluation of mobile devices, and there are also challenges in evaluating public use systems. In some cases there are safety issues where key infrastructure systems are involved. It is important to find examples of usability evaluation techniques used in relevant research literature to identify and justify ideas for the evaluation of the range of Smart City interfaces.
See notes on Interface Evaluation for a range of examples. A good answer will include further relevant evaluation examples from the literature (possibly including your own project or dissertation evaluation if relevant).
4- A Smart History Project for Swansea
Many aspects of Swansea’s history are difficult to appreciate when walking around the city or visiting venues. This is because large areas of the city have been completely redeveloped because of widespread bomb damage throughout the city centre and docks (SA1) area. The area around the Liberty Stadium was an important part of the Industrial Revolution with many groundbreaking processes in industry developed here. It can be impossible for a visitor or resident to even identify the location of a street or building from 70 years ago because of the many sweeping changes and many do not appreciate the history of the city. As with all history systems, there is a large amount of historical information to navigate through. Google Earth gives a historical view with aerial photos from 1945 which helps illustrate the many changes to the city. You should develop a prototype interface to help showcase some of the historical resources of the city. This could be a mobile app design or could be a desktop based system (for example creating a customised map for a walk or drive). Historical information could also be linked with other Smart City applications, for example information about the course of the river Tawe before it was moved could inform flood control. You should include a sketched prototype design and explain how it was informed by research examples of history systems. Use your notes as a starting point and look at research based systems as well as history resources. You will also need to look at some local history resources such as the People’s Collection Wales and the historical information on the Map my Walk app as well as examples from your own research.
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