Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT) 2017 L'Aquila, Italy, 4 September 2017

It is typically assumed that the only function of modern wayfinding support systems is to provide the minimum of required spatial information at the most relevant time and place. This approach relies on offloading cognitive activity to external aids and has shown to be threatening to our spatial abilities in ways that were uncommon before. As our understanding of these new issues develops, it is now a question of how to make the cognitive experience of following computerised wayfinding support: enriching and not diminishing, incremental and not reiterative, embedded and not distractive, intuitive and not artificial. The aim of this workshop is to consolidate emerging work on those wayfinding systems, which support and prioritise aspects of navigation other than its sole speed and efficiency.

Topics of interest include:
- Context-driven and task-specific wayfinding support.
- Alternative metrics for evaluating wayfinding performance and wayfinding support.
- Pervasive, ubiquitous, and distributed wayfinding support systems.
- Wayfinding instructions alternative to 'turn-by-turn' and 'actions-at-decision-points'.
- Visualisation and communication of wayfinding instructions integrated into everyday tasks and contexts.

Extended Description and Scope

Personal GPS-based navigation devices have firmly substituted the ‘pre-computing’ use of paper maps, public signage, and occasional advice from local residents. The average amount of time and effort saved through this shift is unquestionable. However, computerised wayfinding support yielded problems uncommon before. Users fail to remember a route followed repeatedly. Navigators face complete disorientation when the device suddenly malfunctions. Tourists do not recognise scenes from the routes they have travelled. And yet, users trust this new technology even when they are being led into life-threatening situations amid common-sense knowledge suggesting otherwise.

Computerised wayfinding support relies on offloading cognitive activity onto an external aid and delivering the minimum of required information at the right place and time. Self-localisation and spatial updating are skills intrinsically involved in human interaction with 'pre-computing' wayfinding aids (and with unknown space derived of wayfinding aids) but are not required by the GPS-based devices. As a result, support provided by computerised wayfinding assistance is incompatible with the natural ways in which humans explore, learn, and interact with new spaces.

This workshop aims at exploring the possibilities for embedding wayfinding support systems in human everyday experiences. In order to achieve that, functional features of wayfinding support need broadening: guiding the user to efficiently and successfully navigate their body is barely the first necessary requirement. The main variables distinguishing between more and less successful systems will be their compatibility with spontaneous cognitive strategies, and integration with context-dependent tasks tied to wayfinding.

This also requires rethinking the performance metrics used to evaluate such systems. Users’ efficiency, speed, and number of mistakes are important, but not without considering what they learn, how they incorporate new information into their spatial knowledge of varying certainty, how flexibly they are able to use this knowledge in alternative contexts, and how independent of the wayfinding aid they become as a result. Of crucial importance is the task-related context in which navigation is embedded, since rarely (if ever) navigation is performed for navigation's sole sake.

The aim of this workshop is to consolidate emerging work on those wayfinding systems, which support and prioritise other aspects of navigation than its sole speed and efficiency. The scope of interest includes indoor and outdoor systems based on personalised computing, augmented signage, interactive maps, pervasive and ubiquitous technologies.

Submission requirements

We invite contributions discussing early ongoing work relevant to the workshop theme, or speculative ideas grounded in the ongoing work, combining or extending existing developments. Papers should range between 6 and 8 pages (including tables, figures, and references).
All articles must be prepared using the Springer template (contributed books):

Submissions will be peer-reviewed and published in a volume of Springer's Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography (note: only if sufficient number of papers is accepted; otherwise publication via


Papers due:

May 12

May 19

Notification of acceptance: June 16
Deadline for author registration: June 21
Workshop date: September 4


Tentative Schedule

9:00 Introduction
9:20 Keynote
Stefan Münzer, University of Mannheim
"Survey Knowledge in the Egocentric Reference Frame (and Its Use for Wayfinding Support)"
10:30 Coffee Break
11:00 "Supporting Orientation During Indoor and Outdoor Navigation"
Christina Bauer, Manuel Müller, Bernd Ludwig and Chen Zhang
11:30 "Let’s put the skyscrapers on the display – decoupling spatial learning from working memory”
Sascha Credé, Sara Irina Fabrikant
12:00 "Finding the right match: human cognition via indoor route descriptions versus existing indoor networks and algorithms to support navigation”
Kristien Ooms, Nico Van de Weghe
12:30 "Considering Existing Indoor Navigational Aids in Navigation Services”
Wangshu Wang, Haosheng Huang and Georg Gartner
13:00 Lunch Break
14:30 Break-out Sessions: What wayfinding support systems can, cannot, and could do.
16:00 Coffee Break
16:30 Summary of the break-out sessions
~17:00 End


Keynot talk

Presenter: Stefan Münzer

Title: Survey Knowledge in the Egocentric Reference Frame (and Its Use for Wayfinding Support)

Abstrace: Navigators develop different forms of mental representations of the surrounding environment while moving through it. Whereas knowledge of a route is essentially non-spatial (because it is a sequence of cues and associated turning actions), the cognitive map seems to be the ultimate spatial representation. It implies an allocentric reference frame and a metric coordinate system. Cognitive maps might be hierarchical, schematized, distorted and incoherent, but this does not alter the function of the “map” as the ultimate guiding model for the mental spatial representation. However, there might be other forms of mental representations of the environment which are not allocentric and which do not imply a metric coordinate system. It is proposed that there is a mental representation that relies on knowledge about directions to places relative to the body axes of the navigator. These directions are continuously updated while moving through the environment. The knowledge allows for flexible orientation and navigation. The knowledge can therefore be understood as survey knowledge in the egocentric reference frame. It is proposed that this knowledge corresponds most directly to what is measured in pointing tasks and what is meant by “sense of direction”. Evidence for a separation of egocentric directional knowledge from allocentric cognitive map representations is reviewed. Importantly, it is proposed that the acquisition of this kind of survey knowledge can specifically be supported by navigation assistance systems. While the navigator is being guided through the environment, egocentric directional survey information can complement route instructions without representational conflicts between detailed wayfinding instructions and map-like views.



Jakub Krukar, Angela Schwering, Heinrich Löwen, Marcelo Galvao & Vanessa Joy Anacta

Spatial Intelligence Lab
Institute for Geoinformatics
University of Muenster, Germany