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Detlev Fischer, © 2001–2005

A paper given at the Infodesign 99: IDN/IDA international conference 11-13 July 1999, Cambridge, UK, on the concept for a user-focused city information system. Revised in 2005 (and still being revised).

Note: The last part of the paper is currently in German.

1 Introduction

This paper discusses a set of general information-related problems faced by people wanting to get from A to B in a city—i.e., what can be called navigation problems. This set of problems is informed by my own experience when navigating unfamiliar parts of town. Another source are a number of interviews with users of JCDecaux city maps. Heuristic evaluation of the set of information resources freely available in the public domain has also helped identify usability problems. The set of resources includes the maps, itineraries and diagrams provided by HVV and JCDecaux city maps provided by the city districts. To a lesser extent, it includes the Geofox system providing a journey-planning function across the HVV net, integrating underground, light rail, buses, and ships. Geofox exists as a kiosk version in a few large stations and as a web-based version (Geofox 1999). The paper argues that the success of navigation often depends not on a single resource but to the confluent use of several resources. In the last part of the paper, the shortcomings of currently provided resources lead to suggestions for an integrated city information system based on a network of user-centred maps that include public transport information (this part is currently in German).

1.1 Background and purpose of this paper

The need to move towards sustainable transport systems is a pervasive element of political rhetoric in transport policy white papers by the EU and national Governments (see for example, the British goverment's white paper on an integrated transport policy, DETR 1997). (A completely different issue is what is actually done to achieve this.) In practice, moving towards sustainable transport means reducing the dependence of individual travellers on cars as a means of transport. This implies that an improvement of the public transport system is needed to absorb the journeys no longer made by car. Such an improvement is possible both on the level of physically available coverage and services, and on the level of usable information about the transport system.

The argument of the TRIP (Transport Information Planning) initiative is that the easiest and cheapest way to improve the public transport(PT) system is to improve information about transport. 'Changing information is cheaper than changing reality. Redesigning maps, building visual indexes, putting up signs, painting lines on roads, is all cheaper than re-engineering concrete and metal.' (Lindsay 1999a).

One important part of each public transport system is walking — often the mode of transport for the start and end leg of any trip. Therefore, a system improving the efficiency of pedestrian navigation, for example, by including information about interchanges to other modes of transport, will increase the efficiency and usage of the public transport system as a whole.

Investigating the set of available pedestrian navigation resources (maps) in my neighbourhood reveals severe shortcomings of the current resource set. Why results could be used to improve the current system (use more appropriate map sections/boundaries, for example) the investigation has led to a (somewhat speculative) suggestion for a map-based system that would improve the situation. Whether this system would actually work I don't know - to find out, prototypes need to be built and tested in the field with real users.

Whether the proposed system can be built and maintained economically is another uncertain issue. As a benchmark, an analysis of the cost of the current public maps provided by JC Decaux would be necessary. So far, I have no figures what the city coughs up annually for the maintenance of this rather dysfunctional resource set. A stately back-lit map in a large metal case (a city fashion item, if you will) seems more important for political decision makers than a truly functional system. But this is personal conjecture.

1.2 Range of resources

The aim of this subsection is to go through the set of resources potentially available for navigation. I do not intend a detailed description at this point; just to give a feel for the range. Members of the set will be used to illustrate problems described in section 2 of this paper.

1.2.1 HVV stuff

The big network map; the Beck-type network diagram; the partial maps and timetables at bus stops; the timetables in stations of surface rail and tube services; the strip diagrams at stations and inside the tube (there are none inside S-Bahn surface services); the maps of lcoal surroundings found at the exits of most stations. Further, Geofox provided through kiosks at Hamburg's main rail station and Jungfernstieg and in a GIS-less version, via the internet. The ZIS (Zentrale Informationsstelle) offering telephone advice on routes and timetables, forerunner of the planned Mobility centre. Clustering of resources at HVV.

1.2.2 JCD stuff

Another map-based public information system is the one designed and maintained by JCDecaux, a company which also furnishes many other european cities with similar designs. While my only evidence outside Hamburg is Paris, I assume that the design is generic and so will be its faults.

1.2.3 Other stuff

Users own personal and portable resources such as city maps (Falk, RV Verlag, free maps from tourist offices?). Verbal advice requested from HVV staff, professionals (taxi drivers) or other locals. The image of the city from a particular user's perspective to the extent to which this image is recognised and helps orienting-ranging from its landmarks (highrise and historical buildings, television tower, rail stations, etc) to codes such as street names, down to the specific urban image composed of the landscape (rivers, lakes, hills) supplanted by the cityscape: the mix of shops, office buildings and dwellings, the kind and width of streets and density of traffic, the prevailing type of architecture, vegetation etc.

2 Issues and Problems

Morrison (1996) has noted that the overwhelming number of public transport decisions are still made using static stationary displays (maps and network diagrams). Therefore, these are a good starting point for any usability research of PT information.

However, it is necessary to widen the definition of PT to include walking. Walking usually constitutes the start and end leg of a PT trip and must therefore be taken into consideration in any meaningful analysis. For inner-city trips, walking competes directly with PT. At least for those who know an area well, one advantage of walking over PT is the predictability of duration of the journey, particularly when the quality of PT in terms of frequency and reliability of service is not known. (Another aspect is that walking affords a more dynamic experience of city surroundings and provides physical excercise. When surroundings or the weather are unpleasant, PT will have the edge.)

The next sections illustrates the issues and problems regarding PT information (walking included) While discussing the problems, we will capture a tentatiive list of user requirements to inform the alternative design suggested in the last part of this paper.

  1. Location / access
  2. Purpose of use
  3. Here - there
  4. Boundary problem
  5. Confluence of available resources
  6. 'Whatness'
  7. Choice of resource dimensions
  8. Trip planning problems

2.1 Location / access

If it is accepted that as an integrated part of any policy for sustainable transport, PT information must be made available in the public domain, one thing follows immediately:

[R1] PT information resources should be found easily and without great effort. That a resource is found preludes all other aspects of information usability. If I cannot find the damm thing, information is as good as non-existent.

That resouce should be found could mean several things:

(Methodological note: access is difficult to research since users interviewed at the resource are always already past this stage. Not a single user sought out the JCDecaux city map deliberately, all came across it by chance. The situation is different for HVV maps since their location at tube station entrances and at platforms is more predictable.)

Access systems must be prototyped and tested before one can assess their effectiveness. Personally taking a quickly ageing information package about PT to new residents (Pressl et al 1998) does not seem very effective. In order to be useful, it seems the system would have to be an obvious part of the public space, integrated, stable and pervasive like road signs or traffic lights.

Access to JCDecaux maps is a chance affair. Their spread is erratic. According to a JC Decaux representative whom I interviewed, there are only about 80 of them in the whole of Hamburg, mostly in the city centre. In some areas you will find none for miles, in others you find two nearly at the same spot.

The uneven distribution is worsened by the fact that the info map mimicks and advert. It is impossibe to tell whether a case viewed from the back side (the back side will always contain advertising) will contain a map on the front side or yet another advertisement. Given that there are more advertisement displays than maps, there is a 50% chance when walking towards a map that I approach it from the wrong side, if it were a map; however, since many boxes show adverts on both sides, chances are much higher that there is no map on the other side of the box. The conclusion for the JC Decaux maps is that access is sub-optimal, to say the least. Info maps should shout "I am an info map" and signal that unambiguously at 50 yards distance from whatever side you approach them (a large "i" on top of them, shown to 4 directions, would do the trick).

Surroundings with advert on back of info-box at U-Bahn Station Feldstrasse
Surroundings of JC Decaux info box at U-Bahn Station Feldstrasse — from here, you only see a back-lit advert box
Surroundings at U-Bahn Feldstrasse — coming from the other side, the info map is visible
Surroundings at U-Bahn Feldstrasse — coming from the other side, the info map is visible

HVV resources exist where you would expect them: in stations and bus stops. This means their location is fine for all legs of the PT journey bar the first and the last, which are usually walked. Information on the end leg is easier to provide since it can be placed at the point of exit from the PT system (although for a long walk, they will fail or require scribbling and sketching of an impromptu map).

HVV info box at U-Bahn station Feldstrasse. Note that usability of the map is made difficult because you are already inside. Also the area is too large (the scale too small) to offer useful local navigation help. The local map sections introduced since this photo was taken have improved the situation).
HVV info box at U-Bahn station Feldstrasse. Note that usability of the map is made difficult because you are already inside. Also the area is too large (the scale too small) to offer useful local navigation help. (The local map sections introduced since this photo was taken have improved the situation).

For getting oriented in the surroundings of the stop, their location works less well. More about that further on.

2.2 Purpose of use

Urban public-domain information systems can serve an indefinite number of purposes. Just waiting an hour next to a JCDecaux city plan and interviewing users has revealed amongst others, the following purposes:

(A) Get from here to X (where X may be a street, a venue, a restaurant, a parking place etc.)

This is the most obvious and probably the most common purpose.

Provided that an information resource has been found, two further requirements follow immediately:

[R2] The location of "here" should be easy to identify on the resource.

[R3] The likelyhood that the desired destination (X) is indeed shown and can be identified on the map should be optimised.

(B) Get to next PT node [1]

This purpose is a subset of (A), but with an important difference: what is required is access to a function (PT), not to a place. Several nodes may be close; which one is the best to pick depends on the route and the route planning resources available.

(C) Get to a certain location tomorrow (back to the pickup place of a bus)

This is a variant to (A). The interesting thing is to realise how often people look at maps to build internal i.e. protable maps for later use. Also, since public domain maps are static, internl mapmaking is always to some extent required. There will be a limit on the length and complexity of memorized routes, depending on may factors such as the complexity of the geography, familiarity of surroundings, ideographic skill etc. It follows

[R4] Make maps/routes easy to remember: e.g. by indicating landmarks and avoiding clutter

(D) Get a feeling for where we are

For some people, looking at maps constitutes an important part of getting to know a town or an area. This is different from (C) since the internal mapmaking follows no clear purpose, but may turn out to be useful at a later time.

(E) See if one can spot a place worth going

For those who are not determined in advance where to go, the map can indicate various dimensions of whatness of place and in turn trigger a decision to go there. For example, they can display attractions as landmark and name (e.g. 'tour Eiffel'), illustrate them in inset pictures, and indicate surrounding opportunities such as the proximity to other attractions. Other dimensions which are not easily included in static ISs would be opening hours, admission fees, facilities, etc.

[R5] Establish which information dimensions should be rendered before the resource becomes too cluttered

2.3 Here - there

This concerns the problem how a resource here can help getting there, where it is no longer present. The problem starts with making the connection between the here as marked on the resource, and the here of the actual surrundings.

[R6] Make it easy to establish the relation of the resource to its the user's surroundings.

Where is the damn dot?

This seems an obvious point but in fact it is a quagmire. The problem starts when users try to establish the "you are here" dot on the map. (Remember R2). First, they dont know what marker to look for, paticularly if there is no separate legend. Arrow? Red spot? Bullseye?

Once the type of marker is known, the next problem is to find it on the map. Some users of JCDecaux maps failed to do just that. The marker does not stand out and is often located near the edge of the map: Quote: "I wouldn't have expected it that far out!"

Where I want to go is not on the map

Obviously, one problem is that with the own position so much at the edge or in the corner of the map, statistically many destinations will not be included, violating R2. Few people coming across the plan below will want to to the Messe (fair ground) indicated as cluster of buildings to the right (there are two stations which are closer). Most will go to the north or east, exactly the areas not shown on the map (see decription in the legend of the photo).

The You-are-here marker of the map at U-Bahn station Feldstrasse shows that the map is dysfunctional for many people entering this part of town via the station since most go to the areas north or east of the station (to the south, there is the wide expanse of Heiligengeistfeld, mostly unused apart from serving as temporary fair ground three times a year)
The You-are-here marker of the map at U-Bahn station Feldstrasse shows that the map is dysfunctional for many people entering this part of town via the station since most go to the areas north or east 2of the station (to the south, there is the wide expanse of Heiligengeistfeld, mostly unused apart from serving as temporary fair ground three times a year. In fact, the 'roads' indicated to the south don't exist, its just nameless tarmac or cobble stones on an empty space). The lively Karolinenviertel to the north is just not shown – it serves as place for the legend. The design could hardly be more asinine.

Am I where I am told to be?

At another location (Reeperbahn), we have the same problem, but there is a difference. The You-are-here marker at the very left edge does not give the correct position of the map and its user. The actual position of the map cannot be shown since it is outside the map. I had the cruelty to watch people striving to work out their position in the surroundings before helping out. The map is actually placed at an intersection, that of Talstraße and Reeperbahn next to an entrance to the light rail station (S) Reeperbahn..

dot position - indicated and real (shown on map inserted behind display
This is a montage of a photo of the JC Dexaux map having the you-are-here spot indicating the user's location right at the left edge of the map area, and another map (at approximately the same scale so both maps link up) that indicates the actual location of the JC Decaux map in the city geography (about 200 meters further down th Reeperbahn). The map is clearly out of place, literally.

Is this where I should be heading to?

Several people trusted the map and concluded wrongly, pointing to the street Talstraße: so this must be "Beim Trichter", thereby not only being laterally transported by about 500 yards, but getting the wrong orientaton altogether (rotated by 180º). Other users blamed themselves for being unable to work out the geography. One user thought the street might have been renamed. We will return to reasons for this usability desaster later in section boundary.

If the problems of orientation have been overcome, the here-there problem remains, that is, the problem that information is only available here, on the static map. In other words, the usefulness of the map depends on the ability of users of making an internal map or memorize directions some other way, perhaps through verbalisation ("First, left, then straight", etc.) or even scribbling. This means that any one stationary map can only inform short-range pedestrian trips, or supply broad orientation where no detail is needed (i.e., " if we take that direction we'll eventually hit the Elbe").

Side note: the portable map has the advantage that it can be consulted over and over again at varying levels of granularity as its user homes in to his or her destination. The property of portability accommodates the fact that many navigation problems during a pedestrian trip are unforeseeable. The changing architecture of the city generates new questions as the pedestrian moves along, leading to situated consultations in which the layout of streets, buildings, etc. is recursively compared to their representation on the map.

2.4 Boundary

In the example of the you-are-here point that is actually outside the mapped area we have come across a rather drastic demonstration of the importance of boundary.

What constitutes a useful boundary to design into a resource can only be established when we know or find out about users' purposes for using it. In this paper, the focus is on local resources which may (or may not) help people locate and walk to an appropriate PT node, or to find their way from the node to their chosen destination.

To llustrate the boundary problem it a be helpful to look at the way how the network of JCDecaux city covers an area of Hamburg. I have chosen the art of Hamburg where I live because it provides the most striking illustration of the boundary problem.

There are two different JCDecaux maps you may come across when walking the St.Pauli area: the city map and the Altona map

A local map shows locations of JCDecaux maps in the St. Pauli area and links to the area they cover.

#OHP: local map with locs of JCD drawn in
#OHP: mapping areas of JCDs

Notice the gap between City map and Altona map. There is a zone which isn't covered by either, which did not stop the city district of putting up, in the middle of it, a city map with a misleading you-are-here marker. One could muse whether it is a mere coincidence that this negleted zone is the famous red light district, the most frequented tourist area in Hamburg pulling millions of visitors every year, and, one should think, of considerable economic importance to the town. These millions of visitors would be well served by a map that showed the area they are actually in, but there is none.

2.5 Confluence of available resources

A vital prerequisite for geographic orientation in the surroundings is the confluence between the map and the real world it refers to. They are both present and must be brought in line to translate from one to the other. This regards the location and orientation of resources relative to the cityscape with its street signs and landmarks.

At many HVV stations this confluence is made impossible since the map of the surroundings is placed below level, forcing the user to remember the map when investigating the real or remember the real when investigating the map.

A more subtle problem is the direction the map is facing, the difficulty is that of translating between the vertical plane the map and the horizontal plane of the real environment. One solution ould be to have all maps face south, but this may not always be practical. Another possibility would be a notation for the You-are-here spot which indicates the orientation of the map on the map:

you-are-here point indicating direction of display in relation to environment

[Resource clusters]. For certain tasks, several resources are used in conjunction. Those resources are clustered in glass cases at the entrances of HVV stations.

On the underground part of the network, the map design which stayed the same for decades has recently been changed to a digital map provided by the own planning administration (Baubehörde - Amt für Geoinformation ud Vermessung) which also serves as the data source for 10 different local plans (Stadtteilplan).

Tasks where several resources are used confluently are, for example, looking up a street in a street index and locating it on the map via some grid reference, or working out interchange times between different lines during route panning.

Lets take a look at how the first task, locating a street, is supported by the resource cluster.

A local map bew surface shows the surroundings of the light rail station Reeperbahn. The location of the map means that no confluent use of map and environment is possible.

The mapped area is about 5 minutes walking. Notice that the station is not shown in the centre of the map, a design decision probably due to the fact that the busy part of St. Pauli lies to the east of the station.

The street index lists 74 streets with a simple four square grid. Some special places are shown symbolically: Hospital, Police station, Post office, etc.

One further detail should be noted: The bus information is utterly out of date. Several lines listed on the map have been re-routed or discontinued.

A different example of the same approach could be found until about a year ago in the underground station Feldstraße..

The mapped area is relatively small, about 3 minutes walk. The size of streets and streetnames is big and esy to read, and due to the large scale, there s little clutter n gegraphic details are shown in good resoltion.

This has now been replaced by a 'local' plan ('Stadtteilplan') derived from an integral digital map of Hamburg. I put 'local' into quotation marks because this new map shows a huge part of Hamburg: up to 3 hrs walking distance. So this is not a local map at all. It does however show all streets in the local area, but the local area that use to be shown on a map real estate of 60x80 cm is now squeezed into a map space the size of a postcard with rather tiny nd crammed street names, with some areas blotted out by bus route number clusters at terminal stops. You also have to lower yourself to knee level if you want to decipher anything.

On the other hand, you have a mindboggling street index listing about 2000 streets, most of them many miles from your actual location, Even if you wanted to walk there, you could never remember a path to such a distant place.

This map is part of a large two-sided glass case containing on the other side, the large network plan and a service timetable. The new design has eliminated timetables of other lines so that makes interchange planning on the spot impossible.

The light rail currently still carries timetables of ooter services (light rail and underground). I currently have no information as to whether they intend to roll out the new design on the light rail system too.

2.6 'Whatness'

People may look for all sorts of places: buildings, restaurants, clubs, parks & gardens, PT nodes, the place where they left the car, etc. On maps there is always the danger of clutter when too many dimensions of "whatness" are included. A section of a JCDecaux map showing the central part of Altona has a range of buildings. Some are landmarks, such as the church, and may actually help navigating. Others need to be identified via the numbers via an external legend, which are not well associated to the buildings. The large size of the pictograms means it is far from clear where they are, and how to get to them. Whether you want them in the first place is another issue. Note that the highly relevant existence and location of the beautiful footpath running all along through the greens above the river (carfree pleasant walking) is not shown.

A section of the J Decaux map for Altona showing a cluster of buildings partly obliterating the streets
A section of the J Decaux map for Altona showing a cluster of buildings partly obliterating the streets

So there has to be some ranking of information dimensions and an efficient symbol set. User research may determine the most important attractions. However, politics may play a role by emphasising less well known attractions in order to trigger a redistribution of visitor flows away from the congested and clicheed. What needs to be included would vary for types of visitors (impossilbe on a static mao) and may well will vary between parts of town. People don't go to the Harvestehude in search of night life, and they usually don't go to St. Pauli for the architecture, although some might.

2.7 Choice of resource dimensions (trip planning)

Of all possible purposes of an urban IS, one of the most important wi be trip planning. The system should supprt users in making transport decisions, i.e.in deciding how to get from somewhere (usually, but not necessarily, the current location) to somewhere else. This innocuous 'how' contains a range of complex dimensions such as by what means of transport, at what cost, how quickly, how reliably, how safely, etc.

A basic problem is the choice of best PT connection, including the time and effort spent on walking to and from the start and terminal PT node. Often the choice will be influenced by opportunities on route such as posting a letter, buying a sandwich, enjoying scenic views or avoiding traffic fumes, so from the start the problem is usually more complex than the connection algorithm of systems such as Geofox (http://www.hvv.de) suggests. A slightly longer walk to a stop closer to the target stop may cross a tariff boundary and thereby considerably reduce the fare to be paid.

If chosen dimensions are reduced to PT lines, there is too little whatness for the start and end legs of a PT journey which are usually walked. the bare lines are relatively easy to draw using a vector algorithm and lend themselves to fancy maniulations of doubtful value. Morrisons (1996) solution of zone maps, for example, shows the outer network beyond the core zone at an incrementally reduced scale. selected are dimensions of the network only, such as the number of services and the names of stops. This leaves out the geographic fidelity needed for walking.

Morrison (1996) suggests a type of stop-specific route map which excludes the portion of the route before the stop. This may halve the information to be shown, but there is a price to pay. Lindsay (1997) has pointed out that in a transport network a route may be taken in both directions as each direction may connect to a useful interchange. Excluding information about the where-from means excluding the option for the user at the stop to consider taking the opposite direction. Were the route displayed entirely, the user could spot such opportunity by interrogating the timetable or simply noticing a bus approaching the opposite busstop. Such opportunistic behaviour is made more difficult if not impossible by the usual distance of opposite bus stops, a design choice attributable to the policy imperative of keeping the (car) traffic flowing.

3 Analysis of JCDecaux city maps

3.1 Purpose

The city maps by JCDecaux certainly look pittoresque. They have this representative flair, the joyous colours, the inset pictures of famous buildings, which all convey that this city, the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, prides itself on being itself - a tautology consciously eliminating the subject of pride: an author, responsible in case the artefact fails to deliver. And deliver it does, one should think, lulled by the fact that these maps have been around for decades unchanged. Wrong. The problem is that the failure of a town map, seen as an information system, is simply less apparent than, say, the failure of the Challenger Spacecraft or the London Ambulance System. It concerns just one or a few users individually and separately; it is rarely, if ever, used in a safety-critical context where the question of liability could arise; and there are no explicit service level guarantees or performance indicators. On top of that, many users are short-stay visitors to the town and may therefore feel no interest in contributing to lasting improvements of the system. They may moan, but rarely complain to those responsible (besides, such responsibility is difficult enough to establish - the only addresss on the map is that of JCDecaux, a company which can at best be held responsible for its design choices (or its designers' choices) but not for the city's information strategy which legitimises the design concept in the first place).

The rest that follows are bits & pieces in German.

Frage: Wer verantwortet und beauftragt diese Pläne? Wieso ist St. Pauli nicht drauf? Wie kommt es, daß diese Pläne seit 10 Jahren im Wesentlichen unverändert in ihren Vitrinen herumstehen? Warum keine Integration mit den Plänen des HVV und des Vermessungsamtes?

Recherche: JCDecaux - HVV (weiß nichts) - Vermessungsamt?

ein Bezirk stellt sich dar, als Gestalt - aber dann ohne St. Pauli? Grenzänderungen?

3.2 Grenzen

Das Konzept stadtteilbezogener Pläne (z.B. Hamburg City; Hamburg Nord; Altona) läßt zunächst eine bewußte Wahl der Planausschnitte und eine einheitliche Strategie der Anschlüsse an benachbarte Stadtteilpläne vermuten. Es gibt jedoch kein klar ersichtliches System, das die Wahl der Ausschnitte und Überschriften sowie Grenzentscheidungen evident machen würde. Die Entscheidung für den jeweils gewählten Ausschnitt mutet willkürlich an, ohne daß diese Willkür etwa eindeutig auf ein arbiträres Raster, auf natürliche Grenzen oder auf Verwaltungsgrenzen zurückzuführen wäre. Es gibt sowohl Lücken zwischen Stadtteilen, deren eklatanteste die Aussparung von St. Pauli ist, und Überschneidungen, wie zwischen dem HH Nordost Plan, dem eigentlichen City-Plan, und dem HH Südost-Plan. Die beiden letzteren Pläne, obwohl sie völlig unterschiedliche Ausschnitte zeigen, sind irreführend beide Hamburg- City überschrieben.

3.3 Vitrinen

Die Stadtpläne sind, im Verein mit allerlei Werbeflächen, austauschbare Elemente der 'Stadtmöblierung' - so steht es zu lesen auf den kleinen Wagen der Fa JCDecaux, die die Vitrinen bestückt. Jede Vitrine hat nun zwei Seiten, deren eine immer Werbung und deren andere manchmal Werbung, manchmal einen Plan enthält. Daß sie aber einen Plan trägt, ist ihr nur von einer Seite anzusehen. Nur wenige Orientierungsbedürftige - soweit sie überhaupt in der Lage sind, aus dem Anblick einer Vitrine auf die Möglichkeit eines rückseitigen Stadtplanes zu schließen - werden wohl verzeifelt oder geduldig genug sein, um dieser Möglichkeit buchstäblich nachzugehen. Wer zum Beispiel auf dem Rathausmarkt keinen Plan finden kann, strebt vielleicht am Ende einer Werbevitrine in der angrenzenden Mönckebergstraße zu, um auf deren Rückseite tatsächlich einen zu entdecken. Die Vermutung, daß man aus der geschäftlichen oder musealen Bedeutung eines Ortes auf die Anwesenheit eines Planes schließen könnte, wird jedoch häufig, so am Großneumarkt oder am ehemaligen Karl-Muck- (jetzt Johannes-Brahms-) Platz, enttäuscht - wer auf letzterem hoffnungsvoll die Vitrine erspäht, aufs Ampelgrün wartet und hinpilgert, findet Werbung auch auf der abgewandten Seite.

3.4 Sie-sind hier Lokalisation

Die üblichen Sie-sind-hier Punkte auf den JCDecaux Karten sind in vielen Fällen nahe dem Planrand (wodurch nur etwa 50% des Umraumes abgebildet sind - so etwa beim Standort Millerntor, Nobistor/Pepermölenbek, auch in der Uni-Gegend?). Häufig finden sie sich gar in einer Ecke des Planes (so beim Standort Hbf Nord-West, oder U-Bahn Feldstraße). Was nützt es dann dem Orientierungsberdürftigen, der am Hauptbahnhof auf einen Plan stößt, die Darstellung der sich östlich weit erstreckenden Wohn-und Industriegelände Hamm, Horn, Billstedt, Billbrook und Hammer Brook, wo doch die Wege ins nahe süd-westliche gelegene Geschäftszentrum unmittelbar jenseits des Standortes abgeschnitten sind? Schlimmstenfalls jedoch - ja skandalöserweise - befindet sich der geographische Standort der Vitrine außerhalb der dargestellten Fläche - so auf der Reeperbahn Ecke Detev-Bremer-Straße und Ecke Talstraße. Der wirkliche Sie-sind-hier Punkt, der sich nun im virtuellen Raum jenseits der Plangrenze befindet, ist verschämt am äußersten Rand verzeichnet, was den räumlichen Bezugspunkt des Benutzers unrichtig lokalisiert - ein Streich, der bereits Ungezählte irregeführt haben muß. Manche mögen dem Punkt vertraut haben und an der unpäßlichen Geographie irre geworden sein; andere werden vergeblich die verzeichneten Straßennamen im Wirklichen und die wirklichen im Verzeichneten gesucht haben, um sich schließlich düpiert auf gut Glück in Bewegung zu setzen oder doch einen Ortskundigen zu fragen.

3.5 Verkehr

Der Aufstellungsort der JCDecaux-Pläne auf den Fußsteigen in geschäftigen Gegenden zeigt eindeutig, daß sie zur Benutzung durch Fußgänger gedacht sind. Dennoch lassen die Pläne, trotz kleinen Maßstabes und hoher Druckauflösung, einen Großteil der für Fußgänger wichtigen Dimensionen vermissen. So verzeichnen sie keine Fußwege in öffentlichen Grünanlagen, z.B. in Planten u. Blomen, die dem Fußgänger als Abkürzung dienen könnten. Wohl aber Straßen, wo keine (klar abgegrenzten) sind: so z.B. auf dem Heiligengeistfeld. Groß ausgestellt sind Hinweispfeile auf Fernverkehrsstraßen, die den wenigsten Benutzern nützen werden (vom Autoverfahrer, der durch Zufall einen der Pläne am Straßenrand erspäht, einmal abgersehen). Transport-Optionen des ÖPNV sind nicht oder nur ungenügend verzeichnet. Eine Darstellung des Busnetzes fehlt gänzlich. Wohl gibt es Symbole, die U ind S-Bahnhaltestellen markieren, jedoch keine Identifizierung der zugänglichen Linie(n) - als U1 oder S21, zum Beispiel - , und keine unterstützende Farbkodierung. Es fehlt die Einzeichnung unterirdischer Linien in ihrem geographischen Verlauf, durch die es möglich würde, die gewünschte Fahrtrichtung zu ermitteln und die Linie zu verfolgen, um weitere Stationen und Anbindungen anderer Linien zu ermitteln. Auch gibt es keine Angabe der Richtung oder der Zielstationen der Linien, die dem Benutzer helfen würden, über den abgebildeten Bereich hinaus die Fahrt zu planen und unter Tage die richtige Fahrtrichtung zu wählen. (Diese läßt sich erst aus dem Betrachten des HVV-Netzdiagrammes ermitteln, welches jedoch, anders als der JCD Plan, keine geographischen Aufschlüsse jenseits der Haltestellennamen bietet, also für Ortsunkundige ohne zusätzlichen Stadtplan kaum benutzbar ist.) Überirdische S-und U-Bahn-Linien sind zwar eingezeichnet, jedoch nicht zur Richtungsbestimmung zu gebrauchen, da sie unterschiedslos in dem Spaghetti der U-, S-, Fern- und Güterbahnlinien verschwinden.

3.6 Scale/Grid/Index

The Grid is used for linking the index to the maop but does not help estimate walking distance.

3.7 Whatness

Museen und Bauwerke, aber keine Infrastruktur: Taxistände, Briefkästen, Apotheken, Recycling-Container. Sie sind hier - dies ist dort / navigationshilfe nicht portabel - wenn ich hier plane, kann ich mich nicht gleichzeitig dort zurechtfinden, wenn ich dort bin, nicht dieses sehen, um zu planen. Das verlangte ein photographisches Gedächtnis - oder take away Plan, oder eben ein Konzept, daß die Info dort zeigt wo sie gebraucht wird. Dies führt zum nächsten Teil, in dem ich ein Konzept eines engmaschigen Stadtplandisplaysystems mit angepaßter Standortzentrierung zur Diskussion stellen will.

4 Konzept eines engmaschigen Stadtplandisplaysystems mit angepaßter Standortzentrierung

4.1 Standortzentrierung

Economies of scale no longer an argument - Vitrinen würden grundsätzlich Pläne enthalten, die auf den wirklichen Standort zentriert sind, also die erlaufbare Umgebung mit sämtlichen aktuellen ÖPNV Anschlüssen enthalten. Ein Algorhytmus mag die Fahrpläne der eingeschlossenen Stationen generieren - Aber Platzvariable! Sollen zum Beispiel Haltestellenpläne aller Bushaltestellen eingeschlossen sein? Hier gälte wohl die Regel, daß nur die nächsten Haltestellen jeder Linie berücksichtigt sind. Man müßte an Einzelbeispielen ausrechnen, wie vielle Einzelfahrpläne dann im Höchstfall zusammenkämen.

4.2 Aufstellungsorte - Engmaschigkeit

Der Aufstellungsort kann theoretisch überall sein, aber Regeln sind möglich: z.B.an jeder U- oder S Bahn Station (als häufiger Endpunkt des NVs und Anfangspunkt des last walking leg) an jeder größeren Kreuzung, und auf jedem Platz. Die hohe Anzahl von Stationen verlangte ein völlig anderes Planungskonzept und Kostenmodell als im Falle der Decaux Pläne, von denen es nur etwa 80 im gesamten Stadtraum gibt. Bushaltestellen haben bereits die Vitrinen für eine (von 10?) neuen Umgebungsplänen. Hier wäre recht einfach umzustellen. Produziert würden die Pläne durch automatischen Print-off des zentrierten Ausschnittes für jede einzelne Koordinate über digitalen Farbkopierer im Format A2 (A3?).

4.3 Plangrösse - Catchment area

Eine quadratische Ausrichtung um die Mittelkoordinate (=Standpunkt) herum entspricht dem Grundsatz, daß die Navigationsrichtung des Benutzers nicht gewußt werden kann. Ein Radius von 1km um den Standpunkt herum ist eine erste Näherungsgröße, deren Zweckmäßigkeit empirisch überprüft werden müßte. Der zugrundeliegende Gedanke ist der, daß die meisten zielgerichteten Fußwege im Bereich von 0-10 min (0-1km) anzusiedeln sind. Bei dichter Streuung der Displays sind in dieser Reichweite außerdem überlappende Nachbardisplays gegeben (und auf dem Plan verzeichnet), die zur Orientierung über den 1km Radius hiaus dienen können.

4.4 Maßstab

Die JCDecaux Karten haben bei einer Breite und Höhe der eigentlichen Kartenfläche von ca 1m einen Maßstab von ca 1:3.500 (1cm = 35m) , d.h. sie bilden in etwa ein Quadrat mit der Seitenlänge von 3,5 km ab. Uns erscheint diese Auflösung mehr als zufriedenstellend; bei einer möglichen Reduktion der Auflösung auf 1:5.000 (1cm = 50m) läßt sich auf einer Fläche von 40 * 40 cm (die etwa dem auf ein Quadrat beschnittenen Format A2 gleichkommt) der Radius von 1km, also eine Fläche von 4 qm2, abbilden. Ihiermit verglichen stellen gängige Stadtpläne die Stadtgeographie um den Faktor 4 bis 5 verkleinert da. So arbeitet der große Cityplan im RV Verlag mit einem Maßstab von 1:25.000 (1cm = 250m), der vergrößerte Ausschnitt des HVV Verkehrsnetzplans mit 1:20.000 (1 cm = 200m). Ob der Maßstab 1:5000 jedoch den Anforderungen alter oder sehschwacher Benutzer gerecht werden würde, erfordert zusätzliche Recherchen.

4.5 Planquadrat und Indices

Die JCDecaux Karten haben einen Planquadratnetz, auf welches ein alphabetischer Straßenindex und ein zusätzliche alphabetischer Index mit den Unterkategorien [1] Museen, Kommunikations, u. andere öffentliche Einrichtungen, [2] Kirchen, [3] Einrichtungen des jüdischen Glaubens, und [4] Touristen-Informationszentralen etc verweist (seltsamerweise fehlen Moscheen). Der Wert dieser Indices ist allerdings dadurch erheblich beeinträchtigt, daß der Displaystandpunkt oft am Rand, in der Ecke, oder sogar außerhalb des abgebildeten Raumes liegt.

4.6 Transportinformation

U-Bahn und S-Bahn und Buslinien (als strip diagrams); Fahrpläne. Dies entweder neben/unter dem Plan separat generiert (mit Anzeige von Umsteigemöglichkeiten), oder als Eintrag der Richtungsangabe der Linie(n) auf dem Plan (wohl zweckmäßiger) Was für eine Auflösung braucht dies, wie sieht es in sehr dichten Bereichen aus (Innenstadt)? Außerdem die Möglichkeit, Fahrpläne des /der nächsten Nodes mit zu generieren. Wieviel platz braucht dies? Auf dem Plan farblich hervorgehobener Weg vom Standort (Mitte) zum nächsten ÖPNV Node mit Entfernungsangabe.Hier zeigt sich das grundsätzliche Problem, daß -vorausgesetzt die Daten sind eingebunden und dem System verfügbar - unklar ist, wieviel Information sinnvoll ist und wieviel auf einem beschränkten Raum abgebildet werden kann, bzw ob sich der verfügbare Raum nach der im Einzelfall generierten Informationsmenge richten muß. Wenn ein Plan in der Nähe seines Zentrums Stationen von 4 oder 5 verschiedenen U- oder S-Bahnlinien sowie weiterer 3-5 Buslinien enthält (so etwa Rathausmarkt), sollten dann für alle Linien Stripdiagrams sowie Fahrpläne in beide Richtungen, für Sonn-und Feiertage und Nachtverkehr, angeboten werden, oder geht dies über das Wünschenswere schon hinaus?

4.7 Produktion

Der Printout basierte auf Daten des Vermessungsamtes, die auch jetzt schon den HVV Pläne zugrundelegen. Updating: Eventuell nach einen GIS Algorhytmus, der bestimmt, ob es in einem Bereich inhaltliche (straßenbauliche usw) Änderungen gegeben hat. Wahrscheinlich billiger: regelmäßige Updates *aller* Pläne, die, da sie auf Papier gedruckt sind, schneller abnutzen/verbleichen. Kostengünstige beidseitige Laminiermethode, um den Plan gegen Feuchtigkeit zu schützen.

4.8 Updating

Ein regelmäßiges Updating hat den Änderungen im öffentlichen Raum, aber auch der Abnutzung und Zerstörung von Displays Rechnung zu tragen. In den S- und U-Bahnen (z.B. S-Bahn Reeperbahn oder U-Bahn Feldstraße) existieren Umgebungspläne, die über 10 Jahre lang nicht upgedatet wurden und längst stillgelegte Busrouten auf längst verkehrsberuhigten oder anderweitig geänderten Straßen zeigen. Die hohe Dichte des neuen standortzentrierten Systems würden updating-Routen mit codierten Standorten verlangen, denen individuelle codierte Pläne zugeordnet werden. Ob der Code ein serieller, ein sich aus der Route ergebender, oder ein räumlicher, die Koordinaten beinhaltender sein sollte, ist offen. Wahrscheinlich genügen die Elemente serielle Plannummer + Raumkoordinate. Nur diese letzte ist nicht arbiträr; weitere Seriennummern kommen durch neue Standorte hinzu. Update-Touren wären zweckmäßige Listen von Plannummern, die abgefahren werden, solche Updateplanung unterliegt wahrscheinlich Änderungen, die mit der Einfachheit der Route zusammenhängt, die wiederum von Verkehrsfaktoren und dem Mechanismus, die Route abzufahren, abhängt. Eine ungünstige Bewertung des Stadtplanzustandes zur Zeit des regulären Updates könnte auch zur Aufnahme in eine Sondertour führen, eine Hotline zu punktuellen Updates über die regulären Touren hinaus. Eingabe möglicherweise über handheld computer. Aber all dies sind operative Details.

4.9 Vitrinen / Displays

Die Vitrinen sollten klar von Werbung zu unterscheiden sein und von weitem Informationsangebot signalisieren. Anbringung an bereits vorhandenen Unterständen, Schildern, etc, oder Neuaufstellung? Ein gelber Ring oder Halbring um die Vitrine würde die Lokalisierung erleichtern.

5 Online Systems:

Geofox Online journey planning system



1 This did not occur in my observation since the chosen city plan was situated immediately at the entrance of a light rail (S-Bahn) station and the predominant proportion of people had just arrived to amuse themselves (Reeperbahn 20:00)


DETR 1997: Developing an Integrated Transport Policy

DETR 1998a: A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone. The Government's White Paper on the Future of Transport

DETR 1998b: A New Deal for Transport Better for Everyone. The Government's Consultation on developing an Integrated Transport Policy: A Report. (URL broken)

Lindsay 1997: Government paper response. Trip mailing list formerly at mailbase.ac.uk. (URL broken)

Lindsay 1999a: Exhibition on green and smart. Draft of the invitation to Green and smart. Urban Transport and the Information Age. Exhibition at Glasgow School of Art, 4th & 5th October and 4th & 5th November 1999. Trip mailing list formerly at mailbase.ac.uk (URL broken)

Pressl, R. Heylen, E. Dubreuil, S. 1998: "The Save Impact Project: mobility information packages for special target groups". European Conference on Mobility Management, Nottingham.

Last update: 05 July 2005 | Impressum—Imprint