Author: Iftikhar, Hassan
Title: A design framework for synthesizing the mobile and static wayfinding information in complex environments
Advisors: Luximon, Yan (SD)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2022
Subject: Waymarks
Signs and signboards
Visual communication
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Design
Pages: xvii, 211 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Wayfinding involves navigation and destination finding using different environmental cues and dedicated wayfinding aids, (i.e., static or mobile aids). This activity is influenced by various factors like individual differences, spatial design, design of wayfinding aids, other environmental and visual factors. These factors can affect the wayfinding activity and provide hurdles in the intuitive navigation of people, especially in public institutions. Public institutions like hospitals, shopping malls, passenger terminals, and academic campuses attract thousands of visitors and workers from different locations. The public sector institutions located in the dense urban areas or city centres of metropolitan cities have been transformed into spatially complex environments. The high-rise buildings with the scarcity of space make these environments challenging to navigate and find the required destination. Owing to this, these public institutions need to face navigation difficulties for the public daily, which leads to disorientation and cause severe time losses. The legibility of public institutional environments requires less spatial complexity or efficient wayfinding systems to mitigate the public navigation problems.
A wayfinding system consists of different dedicated wayfinding aids informing users about the routes, facilities, destinations, and overall spatial familiarity. The wayfinding aids help users find their required destination with minimal effort to make the institutional environment more efficient. Traditional wayfinding aids consist of directional signs, identification signs, building landmarks, pathways, intersections, artistic landmarks, etc. With the advent of technological advancements, multiple mobile wayfinding aids have been introduced. These mobile wayfinding aids use GPS or different beacon-based technologies to provide context-aware information to the navigator. The context-aware information helps reorient the lost person towards the required destination. Due to the technical limitations in GPS and beacon-based technologies, the complex spatial environments are still considered to be hard to transform into an efficient institutional environment. Various research studies have been performed in quantifying the factors of disorientation and tried to provide the requisite wayfinding solution. However, both static and mobile wayfinding aids and solutions were insufficient to eradicate the wayfinding issues significantly.
This study investigated the potential wayfinding issues in complex environments of public sector institutions that are largely ignored. An intensive literature review has been identified involving several research questions. The literature review has been performed to identify the factors that make an environment complex to navigate. Existing wayfinding metrics and human-related differences have been explored from the previous work. This review has delineated several issues in the wayfinding aids for complex environments, including individual differences of preferences and behaviour in obtaining environmental information. Based on this, a mixed-method research study has been planned to explore the current wayfinding issues in complex environments and current user practices of wayfinding in such environments. The studies have identified the cultural and individual differences in obtaining the wayfinding information from static information sources like signages and maps. In addition to that, this research identifies potential limitations of mobile wayfinding aids as well for estimating the navigator's exact location and orientation. Both wayfinding aids have not been efficient enough to reduce the wayfinding issues.
This study also suggested synthesising the information sources on the individual level and improving the system design of wayfinding information sources. Current user practices recommended a significant need for providing context-aware information. The context-aware information may include current location, orientation, visible directions at decision points and environmental validation after arriving at the destination. The study also investigated the current user practices of information symbiosis and investigated users' performance, behaviour and preferences while performing various wayfinding tasks. The acquired data has been analysed and transformed into theoretical design guidelines for improving the current wayfinding issues in public sector institutions. The design guidelines have been constructed to guide the navigators to synthesise static and mobile information for individual practices. Moreover, the guidelines will provide a complete insight for the environmental and information designers to incorporate the syntheses of various environmental information sources. The improvements for the wayfinding system design have also been suggested for the complex public institutional environment.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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