About the Commission

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On 13 July 2005, a group of about 30 interested participants of the International Cartographic Conference met in A Coruna, Spain, to discuss the feasibility of establishing a forum to work together on use and user issues in cartography and geo-information processing and dissemination under the ICA umbrella. The meeting agreed that:

  • in cartography there is a great interest in use, users and usability;
  • it would be very useful to share and develop knowledge on use and user issues in an ICA Working Group;
  • the subject of study should not just be map use, but the scope should be broadened to the use and users of, for instance, hardware, software and information systems, interfaces, geographic data and databases; *therefore, the name of the Working Group should not be "Map Use", but, preferably, "Use and User Issues".

The 13th ICA General Assembly agreed with this and established the Working Group on 16 July 2005. Since then, several successful Working Group activities took place (a.o. seminars in Manchester, Moscow and Warsaw) and on 9 August 2007 in Moscow the 14th ICA General Assembly decided to upgrade the Working Group to an ICA Commission. After its first term as a commission the 15th General Assembly (2011, Paris) rewarded the commissions’ commitment for the (map) user with an additional term. During this term, the commission has again been very active to tackle research challenges and user issues in cartography and geo-information processing and dissemination. Based on this success the 16th General Assembly (2015, Rio de Janeiro) voted in favor of the continuation of the commission, under a new name: ICA Commission on Use, User, and Usability Issues.

Terms of Reference 2015-2019

  1. Update and maintain a website for the exchange of knowledge, news, and information on use, users, and usability in cartography, geo-information processing, and related fields (www.univie.ac.at/icacomuse). Usability is identified as one of the 10 main keywords in the ICA’s Research Agenda and herein defined as: a range of issues which connect the human user of spatial data with its representation, its processing, its modelling and its analysis.
  2. Maintain an online bibliographical database on use, user, and usability research in Cartography and related fields. The bibliography includes references on the following topics: studies of user abilities and differences therein; use case studies with print, web-based, and mobile maps; map-based user interfaces (UI) and user experience (UX) design; user-centred design and usability engineering, as applied to map design and development; methods and techniques for evaluating products; the use of emerging mapping technologies. The importance of these sub-topics is further illustrated in the ICA’s Research Agenda.
  3.  Synthesize the bibliographical database into a review paper for the ICA journal ‘International Journal of Cartography’ that includes a final research agenda on map use, users, and usability for Cartography.
  4. Generate an online overview resource on usability methods and techniques, including FAQ, why/when one would use the techniques, aspects of experiment design, and tips for analysis.
  5. Organize special sessions on map use, users, and usability at future ICA conferences as well as other regional conferences on Cartography and related topic. Through this channel, original scientific contributions can be gathered and communicated.
  6. Organize training workshops for non-specialists on use, user, and usability issues in Cartography and related fields. The resulting training materials will be made available on the commission’s website.
  7. Jointly organize a special journal issue with sibling ICA Commissions for ICAs ‘International Journal of Cartography’.
  8. Participate in and contribute to workshops and seminars organized in other disciplines (e.g. Computer Science, Geography, GIScience) and by other ICA Commissions.
  9. Involve young (PhD) researchers and researchers from different cultural environments in all Commission activities in order to promote scientific research and support them in their activities.


The commission operates through a core group (chair and 3 vice-chairs) assisted by a number of active members who form a team which, for example, takes care of the website, bibliographical database, facilitation of the organization of workshops / seminars and all relationships with ICA: Kristien Ooms (Belgium), Robert Roth (USA), Artemis Skarlatidou (UK), and Alena Vondrákoá (Czech Republic)

Chair and contact person

The Chair at present is Kristien Ooms

Dr. Kristien Ooms
Department of Geography
Ghent University
Krijgslaan 281, S8 (office 120.072)
Phone: +32 (0)9 264 46 36
Fax: +32 (0)9 264 49 85
Email: Kristien.Ooms@UGent.be


The commission has more than 125 members. Everybody who is interested in the commission and who will actively participate is most welcome, just send a request to the commission's chair