Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
Which Type of User Interface for Whom?
Another important issue in the early stage of the project was the question of how
the user interface should be designed. Before this could be decided it was necessary
to establish more precisely what kind of user, with what kind of knowledge, should
be able to navigate the system for which purpose. In the early discussions it was
suggested by UF participants that they would like to have a simple tool on their
computer to quickly answer burning questions. Such a tool would of course be very
convenient to have in their daily work.
It was however difficult to envisage that the system could ever be so user-friendly
that any IA-leader in a DG would be able to set up and run a question in the modelling
system and yet to provide a flexible framework for a diverse range of applications.
The possibility to navigate through the system would be restricted to people that had
knowledge in modelling. There is obviously a tendency to do more in-house work on
the IAs and also an increasing number of people that have knowledge about modelling
in the DGs, but the number of staff that would be capable to perform modelling will
continue to be limited. A deeper discussion about this issue in the UF also revealed
that even people with knowledge in modelling would hardly have the possibility
to spend the time it would take to set up modelling runs. An assessment leader has to
devote her or his time to initiate and lead different parts of the impact assessment
process and will therefore not be able to personally perform in depth modelling and
analysis of complicated issues. In case modelling is used it is usually outsourced.
The UF discussion, complemented with information from other DG officers that
were currently leading impact assessment projects, led to the decision that we
should aim for a system designed for use at different levels. To set up and run new
questions, there will be a need for an integrative modeller , i.e. a person that knows
the system and its components. The policy experts in the administrations should be
provided with an interface where they can alter parameters in already modeled
policy issues to test alternative answers by help of minor changes in variables and
to view and analyse results.
Strategic Motives Behind Requests for Technical Performance
and Knowledge Content
We met a number of requests concerning technical performance of the tool.
These requests were usually concrete and seemingly minor. It was for instance said
that it would be beneficial if the tool could be connected to the EC Guidelines for
Impact Assessment. Another specific request of this kind was to show the outcome
of a modelling run in relation to a policy target, such as a red flag indicating
numerical targets that were not achieved. Such requests are rather easy to meet.
The former request about adoption to EC guidelines had great influence on
the design of the end users interface which is built around the three stages
in the integrated assessment process, pre modelling - modelling - post modelling.
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