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Abstract

Emergency response systems are a relatively new and important area of research in the information systems community. While there is a growing body of literature in this research stream, human-computer interaction (HCI) issues concerning the design of emergency response system interfaces have received limited attention. Emergency responders often work in time pressured situations and depend on fast access to key information. One of the problems studied in HCI research is the design of interfaces to improve user information selection and processing performance. Based on cue-summation theory and research findings on parallel processing, associative processing, and hemispheric differences in information processing, this study proposes that information selection of target information in an emergency response dispatch application can be improved by using supplementary cues. Color-coding and sorting are proposed as relevant cues that can improve processing performance by providing prioritization heuristics. An experimental emergency response dispatch application is developed, and user performance is tested under conditions of varying complexity and time pressure. The results suggest that supplementary cues significantly improve performance, with better results often obtained when both cues are used. Additionally, the use of these cues becomes more beneficial as time pressure and task complexity increase.

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