Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - MSAFE (mSAFE: mobile Smart Applications for Evacuation)

The objectives of the project are to address the largely unexplored potential of mobile evacuation guides. This requires a collaborative effort across several disciplines. Three core topics have been addressed:

- Design of visuo-spatial information to be consumed under stress
- Design of spatial information to be produced from uncertain data or in conflicting environments
- Enabling robust spatial dialog between users and devices in evacuation contexts

The project is delivering outcomes related to these topics by addressing the following issues:

Stress. Literature on information consumption under stress or panic is scare; thus, some research questions need to be answered as a basic for further development in the project:
- What are the information requirements for a person to be evacuated from an emergency situation?
- How do different ways of communication affect the user?
- How can relevant information for making decisions and planning actions in evacuation situations be selected and adequately represented?
- What is the most effective balance between visual and verbal channels of communication?
- What are effective ways to get the user's attention, e.g., for providing crucial updates on changing conditions?

Uncertainty. Positioning information is inherently uncertain. In evacuation scenarios, however, erroneous guidance resulting from uncertainty may be deadly and people do not have time to resolve uncertainty themselves. Thus, robust ways to handle uncertainty need to be developed.
- How can a guide on a mobile device deal with the uncertainty of positioning, of the overall situation and of the produced information?
- What strategies are there to produce evacuation instructions without the need of precise positioning?
- How to estimate whether the person behaves as expected and how to determine when to interfere (how to know when something goes wrong)?

Dialog. It is of utmost importance that people being rescued are not endangered by ambiguous or consufing instructions. Clear, easy to understand communication and the ability to receive clarification when needed are cruial to ensure safe evacuation.
- How can the necessary information be generated and communicated to a person in this situation through a mobile device?
- What are smart ways to use the limited space of small screens?
- How can user input, i.e., requests for information, or requests for reconfirmation be integrated in a communication strategy?
- How can a guide on a mobile device anticipate and manage potential matches and mismatches between the information it is going to present, and
the explicit (signs) and implicit (designs, affordances) knowledge in the environment?
- What are strategies for error recovery that do not panic the user or require a lot of cognitive resources (e.g., telling them to go back for several meters may make them feel like they run towards the danger zone instead of away from it)?

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