Wayfinding Directions in U.S. and German cities: A Comparison of Qualitative Aspects in Sketch Maps for Supporting Spatial Orientation

Authors: Rui Li*, SUNY - Albany
Topics: Environmental Perception, Behavioral Geography, Cartography
Keywords: wayfinding, spatial orientation, sketch maps, landmarks, qualitative aspect
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: Download



Research as well as anecdotes both suggest that the mechanism implemented in existing navigation devices have impact wayfinders’ awareness of the surroundings that they do not establish competence of spatial orientation, while acknowledging the convenience of using such device. Many researchers are interested in the information embedded in spatial descriptions given by humans that are beneficial to spatial orientation. This study contributes to this effort by investigating wayfinding directions given by humans, as they are valuable sources to understand the underlying mechanism of organizing spatial information for wayfinding and possible ways to identify embedded spatial information that contributes to one’s spatial orientation. Adapting an established framework of categorizing qualitative aspects of spatial information including route topology, landmark order relation and orientation in sketch maps, this study compares spatial descriptions with a particular focus on orientation information in sketch maps provided in two distinctive environments: a German city and a US. City. Results show that the orientation information is prominent in both environments, but differences exist. Participants in Germany tend to orient mainly with reference to landmarks but participants in the U.S. tend to orient one with reference to street network. The results further contribute to the theory of orientation-based navigation design as well as implementation of directions specific to an environment.

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