Development and Evaluation of a Software System for Engaged Sustainability Reporting

Tracking #: 1051-2262

Lida Ghahremanlou
Liam Magee
James Thom

Responsible editor: 
Guest Editors Human Computation and Crowdsourcing

Submission type: 
Full Paper
Measuring sustainability is a critical task for both public and private institutions. While developing a set of organisational indicators is challenging – there are competing definitions of, and measurements for, what sustainability means – a software system can simplify the identification of indicators from existing resources. However, the problem of the semantic heterogeneity of indicators, with shared, overlapping, or more specialised meanings, remains at the user interface level. We tackle this problem by developing software for a sustainability reporting framework – Circles of Sustainability – which provides two interface mechanisms for browsing indicator sets: a Tabular view and a Circular view. In developing such software, we introduce a generic design of an ontology for representing sustainability indicators. This ontology supports the presentation of indicators from multiple sources. We then evaluate the overall usefulness and ease of use of the presented software and the associated interface mechanisms by conducting a user study experiment. The quantitative and qualitative analysis in the user study indicates that the Circular view is the interface preferred by most participants to browse semantic heterogeneous indicators. Preferred aspects include the improved graphical display and visual experience, ease of navigation and visual communication, and providing short details about indicators by distinguishing their domains and sub-domains. The Tabular view, however, has advantages of simplicity and ease of keyword searching.
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