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Semiotics, Mapping and Emergencies 
Signs, Symbols and Information Architecture 
Noreen Whysel 
New York Public Library, M...
Mapping Symbology 
 Features of the real world symbolized on maps as: 
 Points 
 Lines 
 Areas 
Source: Semiotics. GIS...
Geographic Information Systems 
 Cartographic symbols represent 
 Direction 
 Location 
 Distance 
 Function 
Source:...
3 Branches of Semiotics 
 Syntax: Relation between objects on a map and the real 
world. 
 Semantics: Relation between o...
Syntax
Semantics 
 Blue Rivers and 
Bodies of Water 
 Compass Rose pointing 
North 
 Distance gauge 
 Identifying Labels 
 P...
Source: Massimo Vignelli’s Iconic 1972 NYC Subway Map 
http://cdn8.openculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/vignelli-sub...
Pragmatics 
 How the map user responds to the map symbology. 
 Context 
 Mental Model 
 e.g., Wayfinding
Pragmatics
Semiology of Graphics 
 Jacques Bertin. Semiology of Graphics. 1967. 
 Monosemic: “A system is monosemic when the meanin...
Semiology of Graphics 
 Jacques Bertin. Semiology of Graphics. 1967. 
 Polysemic: “A system is polysemic when the meanin...
Semiotics and Emergency Response
RED
Source: Colours in Cultures. Information is Beautiful 
Anger 
Danger 
Heat
Good Luck 
Love 
Passion 
Success 
Source: Colours in Cultures. Information is Beautiful.
Emergency Response Symbology 
 Points 
 Hospitals and first aid stations 
 Police and first responder stations 
 Call ...
Emergency Response Symbology 
Source: FDNY. http://events.esri.com/conference/sagList/?fa=Detail&SID=1845#
Standard Symbol for Emergency? 
 Symbol sets support Common Operating Picture 
 United States Department of Homeland Sec...
Canada EMS 
 Funded by GeoConnections 
 Supports emergency 
management applications 
 national Multi-Agency 
Situation ...
U.S. Standard Symbol Set 
 Partners: 
 Department of Homeland Security 
 Pennsylvania State University GeoVISTA Center ...
Distributed Process and Toolkit 
 1. A distributed, collaborative web based process and 
toolset that allow users to: 
 ...
Web-Based Symbology Service 
 SymbolStore.com 
 Find relevant symbols using keyword search 
 Review available symbols a...
Web-Based Symbology Service 
 SymbolStore Prototype 
 ANSI 415-2006 (FGDC HSWG) 
 HSIP 
 FEMA 
 DHS NPPD 
Source: US ...
SymbolStore 
Source: SymbolStore. http://www.symbolstore.com
Thanks! 
 Noreen Y. Whysel 
 @nwhysel 
 http://www.whysel.com 
 Information Architecture Institute (iainstitute.org) 
...
Semiotics in Mapping and Emergency Response
Semiotics in Mapping and Emergency Response
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Semiotics in Mapping and Emergency Response

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Presentation for the Semiotics Web and Information Architecture meetup at New York Public Library discusses symbology in mapping as an aspect of semiotics; gives an example of emergency response map symbology and discussion of applications for first responders and broader uses.

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Semiotics in Mapping and Emergency Response

  1. 1. Semiotics, Mapping and Emergencies Signs, Symbols and Information Architecture Noreen Whysel New York Public Library, Morningside Branch November 1, 2014
  2. 2. Mapping Symbology  Features of the real world symbolized on maps as:  Points  Lines  Areas Source: Semiotics. GIS Wiki. http://gis.com/wiki/index.php/Semiotics/
  3. 3. Geographic Information Systems  Cartographic symbols represent  Direction  Location  Distance  Function Source: Semiotics. GIS Wiki. http://gis.com/wiki/index.php/Semiotics/
  4. 4. 3 Branches of Semiotics  Syntax: Relation between objects on a map and the real world.  Semantics: Relation between objects on a map and the data they represent.  Pragmatics: Relation between the objects and the person viewing the map. Source: Semiotics. GIS Wiki. http://gis.com/wiki/index.php/Semiotics/
  5. 5. Syntax
  6. 6. Semantics  Blue Rivers and Bodies of Water  Compass Rose pointing North  Distance gauge  Identifying Labels  Population Areas Source: 1869 Kitchen - Shannon Map of New York City. Geographicus.
  7. 7. Source: Massimo Vignelli’s Iconic 1972 NYC Subway Map http://cdn8.openculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/vignelli-subway-map-19721.jpg
  8. 8. Pragmatics  How the map user responds to the map symbology.  Context  Mental Model  e.g., Wayfinding
  9. 9. Pragmatics
  10. 10. Semiology of Graphics  Jacques Bertin. Semiology of Graphics. 1967.  Monosemic: “A system is monosemic when the meaning of each sign is known prior to observation of the collection of signs.”[citation needed] An example of a monosemic sign is a mathematical problem, a painting, or a map.  Monosemic is when the meaning of a sign was understood beforehand (Google map) Source: Semiotics. GIS Wiki. http://gis.com/wiki/index.php/Semiotics/
  11. 11. Semiology of Graphics  Jacques Bertin. Semiology of Graphics. 1967.  Polysemic: “A system is polysemic when the meaning of the individual signs follows and is deduced from considerations of the collection of signs.”[citation needed]An example of polysemic is a an abstract painting or a verbal expression.  Polysemic is when the sign is better understood after studying the sign (Yelp Monocle or Massimo’s subway map, unusual orientations). Source: Semiotics. GIS Wiki. http://gis.com/wiki/index.php/Semiotics/
  12. 12. Semiotics and Emergency Response
  13. 13. RED
  14. 14. Source: Colours in Cultures. Information is Beautiful Anger Danger Heat
  15. 15. Good Luck Love Passion Success Source: Colours in Cultures. Information is Beautiful.
  16. 16. Emergency Response Symbology  Points  Hospitals and first aid stations  Police and first responder stations  Call boxes  Fire hydrants, standpipes  Points of entrance and egress  Lines  Evacuation routes, major roads and intersections  Areas  Flood zones, Disaster areas, Quarantine zones
  17. 17. Emergency Response Symbology Source: FDNY. http://events.esri.com/conference/sagList/?fa=Detail&SID=1845#
  18. 18. Standard Symbol for Emergency?  Symbol sets support Common Operating Picture  United States Department of Homeland Security  Canada EMS, Influenced by  HSWG - Homeland Security Working Group (ANSI INCITIS 415- 2006 and the related mil spec: MIL-STD 2525C)  CAP-CP - Canadian Profile of the Common Alerting Protocol  NIDM - Canadian National Infrastructure Data Model (which was heavily influenced by the US-Canada Cross-Border Infrastructure Plan)  There are no standard symbol sets for emergency response. Source: Symbology. GIS Wiki. http://wiki.gis.com/wiki/index.php/Symbology
  19. 19. Canada EMS  Funded by GeoConnections  Supports emergency management applications  national Multi-Agency Situation Awareness Systems (MASAS)  Targets web applications but can be used with desktop appliations Source: Symbology. GIS Wiki. http://wiki.gis.com/wiki/index.php/Symbology
  20. 20. U.S. Standard Symbol Set  Partners:  Department of Homeland Security  Pennsylvania State University GeoVISTA Center  Deliverables:  Distributed, collaborative process and toolset  Web-based Symbology service Source: US Dept of Homeland Security, http://www.fgdc.gov/HSWG/index.html
  21. 21. Distributed Process and Toolkit  1. A distributed, collaborative web based process and toolset that allow users to:  Review their existing symbology  Identify missing, redundant, ambiguous symbols  Identify poor symbol labels and definitions  Develop logical symbol categories Source: US Dept of Homeland Security, http://www.fgdc.gov/HSWG/index.html
  22. 22. Web-Based Symbology Service  SymbolStore.com  Find relevant symbols using keyword search  Review available symbols along with metadata such as: symbol name and description; where they are used (what organizations); are they part of a standard; etc.  Preview symbols on different scale maps  Select and download symbols  Publish symbols and symbol libraries to the Symbol Store Source: US Dept of Homeland Security, http://www.fgdc.gov/HSWG/index.html
  23. 23. Web-Based Symbology Service  SymbolStore Prototype  ANSI 415-2006 (FGDC HSWG)  HSIP  FEMA  DHS NPPD Source: US Dept of Homeland Security, http://www.fgdc.gov/HSWG/index.html
  24. 24. SymbolStore Source: SymbolStore. http://www.symbolstore.com
  25. 25. Thanks!  Noreen Y. Whysel  @nwhysel  http://www.whysel.com  Information Architecture Institute (iainstitute.org)  GISMO (gismonyc.org)  IDESG (idecosystem.org)  OWASP KBA Project (owasp.org)

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