User-Centered Design of Nautical Chart Symbols

TitleUser-Centered Design of Nautical Chart Symbols
Publication TypeConference Abstract
AuthorsKastrisios, C, Contarinis, S, Butkiewicz, T, Nakos, B, Sullivan, BM, Harmon, C, Christie, E, Bartlett, M
Conference Name2023 US Hydro Conference
Conference LocationMobile, AL
Conference DatesMarch 13 -17
KeywordsElectronic Navigational Chart, IHO Product Specification, Portrayal, safety of navigation, symbology

The new S-1xx product specifications being developed by the International Hydrographic Organization’s (IHO) Working Groups enrich the navigation related information on Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). However, many of them do not yet have defined symbology. Symbology is an essential part of the cartographic profession as it helps humans to decode the mapped real-world features. Ιn this work we present a developing project toward new symbology that currently targets the S-122 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) (IHO, 2019), S-126 Marine Physical Environment (under development), S-127 Marine Traffic Management (IHO, 2018), and S-131 Marine Harbour Infrastructure (under development). The work follows a user-centered design consisting of four phases: the understanding of context of use, the user requirements, the symbology design, and the iterative process for making improvements to the initially developed symbology based on feedback by stakeholders. For the first two phases, we utilize the wealth of information in the existing IHO publications. Aspects such as the use of color and utilized enclosing shapes are derived from the long-lasting practice in the nautical charting profession. Other relevant sources are also investigated, e.g., current MPAs portrayal methods in national thematic maps. For the symbology design we focus on developing icons representative of the mapped feature, rather than abstract symbols, utilizing existing chart symbols where available / possible, and the selection of symbol color, enclosing shape, and size. Sample preliminary symbols are presented as well as the feedback from professional cartographers for making improvements toward an effective symbology, i.e., symbols that achieve an optimal visual hierarchy and are intuitive, while they occupy the minimum possible chart space.