You are here

Socio-Geographical Support

IUALL (Interaction for Universal Access)

This WP focuses on providing support for navigation through socio-geographical environments. A neighborhood is not only experienced through the layout of the streets and squares, but also by the perceived social threats and opportunities. This WP focuses on human navigation support, helping citizens to form relevant mental models of the structure of their social and geographical environment and to take corresponding decisions, enabling them to feel safe and secure as well as socially connected. The research focuses on young elementary school children (6-12 years) and their social environment such as parents and schools. As these children grow up, they start exploring more and more of their social and geographical environment. With the models and technologies developed in this WP we aim to support this process.

The way by which we mean to achieve a satisfactory level of socio-geographical support is through creating intelligent electronic parters (ePartners). An ePartner should provide socio-geographical support to its user, and can for example take the form of an application on a mobile device. We view ePartners as agents that function in a multi-agent system along with other ePartners and their human users, trying to best fulfill their users’ needs. In order to do that, users need a flexible way of communicating the desired behavior to the ePartner (e.g., the ePartner should bring an interesting school event to its user’s attention). Moreover, the ePartner should take into account others in the system, such as parents, friends from school and their parents in taking decisions. Situated partnerships can be established via "agreements" or "contracts" (similar to a Pestprotocol in Dutch schools, curfews and behavior constraints).

Considering this, we view the ePartner as functioning in a normative system where norms are set by the ePartner’s user (the child) and his or her family, as well as other social contexts (like the school or sports club). Communication between people and ePartners is thus viewed as defining norms for its behavior, and the ePartner should reason about these norms and others in its social context in deciding what to do. Through the use of situated Cognitive Engineering, the relevant norms to which ePartners can subscribe will be elicited from users. Situated Cognitive Engineering consists of a process of iterative development cycles in which several methods (e.g. cultural probing, focus groups, etc.) are used for investigating how the ePartner could best support citizens. Each cycle is directed at refining the system’s specifications in more detail.

The general research questions that we address are:

  1. In which aspects of navigation through a socio-geographical environment do children and their social context consider it desirable to receive support from an ePartner?
  2. Which properties should a normative framework for modelling the social context of ePartners for socio-geographical support fulfill?
  3. How can the norms that apply in a particular social context be elicited from people in that context.
  4. How can the ePartner reason about what to do, based on the applicable norms in its social context?
WP Leader: