Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Negotiating the truth: exploring the influence of metadata in group decision making

  Peter Boyes (2018 cohort)


Along with the general global population growth, there has been a societal shift in the environment we live in. A once agricultural species, the balance has now shifted to a greater portion of the world population inhabiting urban environments than the rural areas. The combination of population growth and a shift to urban living has seen a rise in the consumption and demand for resources; space, water, energy, food. Some 75% of all natural resources worldwide are consumed by cities and their citizens. This growth has also seen an increase in waste production, and generation of emissions. The environment that this population will live in needs understanding and supporting. With the future of smart cities, Ordnance Survey as a national mapping agency sit in a position to combine accurate geospatial representations of cities with the variety of streams of data. There is an interest in the use of smart systems, combining live and historic sensor feeds and data sources, to both sense and interact with the city. These complex systems need solutions that help their understanding and their underlying data.

As a potential way of enabling the smart city of the future, this research will explore how groups interact with each other and data in a combined environment of augmented reality (AR) and projection augmented relief models (PARM). Geodata portals are a current method of holding and accessing large quantities of geospatial data, their use is hampered by data overload and difficulty in accessing datasets. This could be a barrier to ‘The Smart City’. The effective collaborative effort from an interdisciplinary team requires individuals to have an understanding of the representation of the city they are looking at, and the various data sources that can be visualised. Through scenario-use, the project should elicit what benefits and challenges arise in the interaction after visualisation of geospatial data, from the physical model, overlaid data, and onto the augmentation of this.

The University of Nottingham main campus has parallels to a small city, and so will provide the basis for most of the study during this research. Some ways the campus is a small city; it contains residential and work areas; the university has its own transport and healthcare services; there are retail and restaurant outlets; there are comprehensive sports facilities; multiple car parking locations; a full security system; waste and recycling collection, and also energy generation on campus. This small scale city provides an ideal focus for investigation of behaviours and initiatives before scaling and implementation on a full smart city level.

Collaborative PARMs and AR raise a number of questions. The main questions this research aims to answer are; what behaviours/interactions are enabled by the technologies? How does an interactive physical model impact collaboration in an operational setting? How can the personal augmentation of a shared physical model aid operational group meetings?

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/L015463/1) and Ordnance Survey.