At UCSC, we have been working on the REINAS (Real-time Environmental Information Network and Analysis System) project to provide real-time data acquisition, data management, and data visualization of environmental data to a variety of users. On the visualization front, we are looking at providing collaborative scientific visualization support for our users from meteorology and oceanography. While their inputs and needs have contributed to the design of our system, the visualization and auxiliary tools that we have developed are also applicable to other domains such as GIS.
Our work falls under the category of CSCW (Computer Supported Collaborative Work) with applications to scientific visualization. The immediate impact of the application area is twofold: (a) Data lives in a 3D (or higher dimension) world. This is in contrast to the textual or 2D collaborative document or drawing applications commonly found in CSCW applications. (b) There is a large volume of data transfer among participants. The implications of the higher dimensionality of the workspace are the necessity to support annotation and pointing in 3D space, ability to roam around and change viewpoints in 3D, and the ability to see the viewpoint of others from their vantage point. On the other hand the implications of large data transfers raises issues of compression and different levels of data sharing. The section on Collaborative Features will highlight how these are addressed.