In this paper we present a case study of how design sketching can be used as a technique for exploring and creating a common understanding between users, designers and software developers, of the representation design requirements for supporting spatial-temporal reasoning in Air Traffic Control (ATC). The safe and expeditious control of aircraft requires the ATC controller to think in terms of 3D air space, and also plan ahead in time. We refer to this mental process as spatial-temporal reasoning. ATC is a 4D (3D plus time) problem but is currently supported by 2D tools such as the Plan Position Indicator-type radar displays that are seen in ATC centres. This requires the air traffic controllers to construct mental models of the air traffic situation to ensure safe vertical and horizontal separations between moving aircraft, and also expedite traffic flow. These objectives require prediction of traffic patterns and potential bottlenecks. To explain how we used design sketching, we report on the Task Analysis of an exemplar ATC task, and the characterisation of this task in spatial-temporal terms, and how the Ecological Interface Design principle of visualisation of constraints was applied to guide the development of the 4D visual form of the representation design.
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