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Understanding User Interaction Patterns within Online Systems for Public‐Participation Transportation Planning

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Many research projects in public‐participation geographic information systems focused on the development of software prototypes that were conceptualized to complement traditional forms of public participation. Given the challenges introduced by the heterogeneity of their user base, system design, and decision making process, empirical evaluations of such systems based on actual use have been scarce. This article reports on a rigorous empirical assessment of human‐computer interaction of users of a web‐based system for participatory transportation planning. We devised three groups of participants with below‐average, average, and above‐average interaction duration through hierarchical cluster analysis. Subsequently, the characteristics of the clusters were subjected to logistic regression analysis to determine the significance and strength of statistical associations between duration of interaction and a host of individual‐level variables. Our results indicate a statistically significant reduction of the odds‐ratio for participants with above‐average duration of interaction in the case of no prior experience with online transportation discussions. No significant associations were found between overall duration of interaction and sociodemographic background, cognitive decision‐making style, and travel behavior. We advocate for the development of adaptable participatory systems which accommodate flexibility in terms of both the user interface and pathways of the decision making process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2014

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