Recent information technologies make it possible to include sophisticated three-dimensional display formats in emergency management information systems (EMIS), a decision-support system that facilitates decision-making in crisis situations. Unless decision makers are able to correctly identify situations where these formats are appropriate, their decision-making performance might not improve. Applying the cognitive fit theory, proximity compatibility principle, and theory of data graphics, the authors address this question with two experiments. Findings suggest that EMIS users tend not to choose the best displays, but their performance improves when they are given decisional guidance. The authors discuss the implications for EMIS design and for the training of emergency management professionals.
To test the cognitive fit theory and proximity compatibility principle, Carswell and Bailey (2007) developed and tested three tasks to determine whether users with different displays performed differently. Using one of five visual displays, participants were required to determine whether security personnel were adequately located in the fictitious city of College Branch. They were given the following decision criteria: (a) Civilians should be able to reach a building with a security officer without having to cross more than one street, and (b) They should not have to cross through an intersection diagonally. Participants’ response times were recorded and their accuracy rate was determined for comparison purposes. Overall, participants with the horizontal plan view performed significantly more accurately and quickly than those with other views.