Keywords

decision support, information support, enviromental management, enviromental policy, decision support tool (dss)

Start Date

1-7-2006 12:00 AM

Description

Integrated assessment models, decision support systems (DSS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are examples of a growing number of computer-based tools designed to provide scientific decision and information support to people within environmental management and policy organizations. It is recognized that end-user organizations are often not as receptive to using such tools as desired but that little research has been done to uncover and understand the reasons why. As part of the process to understand what tools are used and why, and conversely what tools are not used and why, this paper presents some views on the issues involved. No claim is made regarding the completeness of the issues covered, rather the purpose of the paper is to instigate discussion about how to improve tool design practices in such a way as to benefit environmental management and policy. Conflict between the aims of tool designers to develop usable and useful tools which also contain some degree of technological innovation is highlighted as a potential cause of problems. A call for clarity of purpose in tool design is made to make it clearer both to the designer and the client organization what the main aim of the design process is as a means of uncovering mismatches in expectation. Further, a call is made for designers to move from a technology-push to a demand-pull perspective as a necessary step towards designing more appropriate tools. A range of social dimensions of relevance to tool design are also discussed including the need to involve clients and stakeholders early in the design process, whether a model should present a simple and engaging story and to what extent good science can be implemented through the use of computer models, and the need to build trust between tool designers and tool users as a necessary part of making tools useful.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Bridging the gaps between design and use: developing appropriate tools for environmental management and policy

Integrated assessment models, decision support systems (DSS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are examples of a growing number of computer-based tools designed to provide scientific decision and information support to people within environmental management and policy organizations. It is recognized that end-user organizations are often not as receptive to using such tools as desired but that little research has been done to uncover and understand the reasons why. As part of the process to understand what tools are used and why, and conversely what tools are not used and why, this paper presents some views on the issues involved. No claim is made regarding the completeness of the issues covered, rather the purpose of the paper is to instigate discussion about how to improve tool design practices in such a way as to benefit environmental management and policy. Conflict between the aims of tool designers to develop usable and useful tools which also contain some degree of technological innovation is highlighted as a potential cause of problems. A call for clarity of purpose in tool design is made to make it clearer both to the designer and the client organization what the main aim of the design process is as a means of uncovering mismatches in expectation. Further, a call is made for designers to move from a technology-push to a demand-pull perspective as a necessary step towards designing more appropriate tools. A range of social dimensions of relevance to tool design are also discussed including the need to involve clients and stakeholders early in the design process, whether a model should present a simple and engaging story and to what extent good science can be implemented through the use of computer models, and the need to build trust between tool designers and tool users as a necessary part of making tools useful.