This paper, and the following 5 papers, were first presented at a Symposium on ‘Advanced
Moving-Map Displays’ held on the 3rd and 4th of August 1999 at the US Naval Research
Laboratory Detachment at the NASA Stennis Space Centre, Mississippi and are reproduced
in modified form with the kind permission of the NRL Commanding Officer, Captain
Douglas H. Rau USN.
The role of human factors in map design is to serve as a mediator between the technology
availed by electronic digital maps (particularly vector maps) on the one hand, and the many
tasks performed by the user on the other. Simply put, no one map is best suited for all tasks.
The appropriate mapping of map to task is, in turn, mediated by a series of information
processing principles, articulated by the engineering psychologist. The field is on the
threshold of being able to provide computational models, based on these principles, that will
provide guidance to the map designer as to the circumstances that make one map format
better than another for a particular application. This paper describes these principles as
applied to two domains of vector map design: the domain of three-dimensional maps, and
the domain of database overlay.