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Natural Conversational Interfaces to Geospatial Databases

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Abstract

Natural (spoken) language, combined with gestures and other human modalities, provides a promising alternative for interacting with computers, but such benefit has not been explored for interactions with geographical information systems. This paper presents a conceptual framework for enabling conversational human-GIS interactions. Conversations with a GIS are modeled as human-computer collaborative activities within a task domain. We adopt a mental state view of collaboration and discourse and propose a plan-based computational model for conversational grounding and dialogue generation. At the implementation level, our approach is to introduce a dialogue agent, GeoDialogue, between a user and a geographical information server. GeoDialogue actively recognizes user's information needs, reasons about detailed cartographic and database procedures, and acts cooperatively to assist user's problem solving. GeoDialogue serves as a semantic ‘bridge’ between the human language and the formal language that a GIS understands. The behavior of such dialogue-assisted human-GIS interfaces is illustrated through a scenario simulating a session of emergency response during a hurricane event.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Information Sciences and Technology and GeoVISTA Center Pennsylvania State University 2: Department of Geography and GeoVISTA Center Pennsylvania State University

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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