Design Pattern: RM(9) Maps


A set of incoming alarms has been registered. The human operator would like to comprehend the spatial relationships between alarms and specific elements of the controlled process.


The human operator needs to explore the spatial relationships between alarms and specific elements of the controlled process in order to establish the potential cause of a failure.


Position alarms consistently in relation to spatial locations of the controlled process by using maps. A map is a visual display format medium that represents a spatial location and maps relevant elements of the controlled process to their geographical location. The choice about the detailed graphic specifications, such as size and resolution of the depicted area, level of detail, or the types of alarms included, varies depending on the specific application scenario. Significant features of a map should be labelled directly on the display unless cluttering or obscuring of other information would result. As a practical matter, map displays can get very crowded. Under these circumstances, some other approach to map labelling should be considered to avoid crowding.

Known uses
Fig1. CryWolf system to map alarm locations
Fig2.Geographic map of an electrical distribution network provided by the CYMDIST distribution analysis software

Maps represent the fundamental mode of display for information that have spatial attributes and can be immediately translated into real-world situations. (Card, S. K., Mackinlay, J. D., & Shneiderman, B. (1999). Readings in information visualization: Using vision to think Morgan Kaufmann Pub. )