Does interactive visualisation increase stakeholders’ understanding? A case study of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury, New Zealand
Visualisation has been used in a number of natural resource management applications with the aim of enhancing people’s personal understanding of issues but little evaluation of the effectiveness of the tools developed has been undertaken. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether interactive visualisation increase stakeholders’ personal understanding of lake values using a case study of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, in the South Island of New Zealand. Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is a broad, shallow lake. It is separated from the Pacific Ocean by the long narrow sandy Kaitorete Spit. Its unique position allows for it to be opened to the sea periodically to provide drainage and prevent flooding of surrounding farmlands. There is a lack of agreement among the diverse stakeholders regarding the appropriate levels at which the lake level should be maintained throughout the year. We describe an interactive visualisation tool (ElleVis) which shows the effects of different lake opening regimes on lake values at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. The tool allows users to input different opening scenarios and visualise the resulting impact on water levels around the lake at various times. It incorporates historical rainfall data from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to deliver a graphical map display, including a summary table with a ‘traffic light’ status for lake values - birds, fish, farming and other stakeholder interests at different locations around the lake. The interactive nature of the ElleVis tool allows the stakeholders to compare Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere under different opening scenarios using one interactive tool. A quasi-experimental design was adopted to measure the knowledge of the participants before and after using the ElleVis tool. Overall, participants’ scores were significantly higher (M = 34.5, SD = 6.549) after using the ElleVis visualisation tool than before (M=22.5, SD = 7.408) t (13) =5.842, p = .005. Post-study comments from the participants were analysed to see if there were any patterns or differences with participants’ experiences or impressions with the use of ElleVis. The results revealed that interactive visualisation can increase the personal understanding of stakeholders with diverse interests. More widely, the findings of this study inform discussions about whether visualisation tools might contribute to the management of “disagreements” in environmental management in situations that involve contested resources or a multiplicity of interests.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsvisual simulation; evaluation; simulation; interactive visualisation; personal understanding
TypeConference Contribution - Published (Conference Paper)
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