Secondment at the National Center for Geographic Information

The National Center for Geographic Information (CNIG) is an autonomous body depending on the Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Agenda, through the National Geographic Institute of Spain. The main functions of the CNIG include the production, development, and distribution of geographic resources required by society in the form of different platforms and products. The large volume of digital geographic information available and the mandate of data openness has motivated the institute to develop a new semantic search engine that facilitates citizens’ access to this information. As part of the ODECO project, Dagoberto Herrera (UNIZAR) held his secondment at this institution between September and December of last year.

Dagoberto’s research focuses on exploring the impact of UI choices in influencing the behavior of data users in data portals. The stay at CNIG consisted of carrying out the acceptance testing of this new semantic web with special attention to observing the differences in perception and behavior between novice and expert users. The research included an exploration of qualitative UX tools (eg, user personas & user journey maps), test case automation, and usability testing with 30 representative users. The findings were transferred to the product team to improve the user experience of the platform.

The main lesson of the secondment was that the effective design of open data search interfaces involves incorporating direct and indirect feedback from users throughout the entire lifecycle of the development project, from the initial conception to the acceptance testing of the developed interface and further on to the improvements that can be incorporated when the product is operational.