Presenter/Author Information

Brian McIntosh
E. Diez

Keywords

decision and information support tools, information systems, impact assessment, desertification

Start Date

1-7-2008 12:00 AM

Description

A key aim of developing environmental models and software is to provide decision and information support to environmental policy and management. In developing such technologies we, as a community of scientists and computer specialists, hope to provide tools which exert a positive impact on policy and management processes, actions and outcomes. We want to contribute to a diverse range of objectives from better managing scarce resources, through mediating and avoiding conflict, to maintaining adaptivity and promoting sustainable development. As ever greater numbers of decision and information support tools (DISTs) are developed to support environmental decision making it is therefore important that we develop a clear understanding of the impacts we intend these technologies to exert, compared to the impacts they actually exert. So what impacts do environmental DISTs have on policy and management organisations and activities? The IS literature distinguishes between impacts based on scale (HCI – task – organisational) and life cycle stage. Within these categories internal (organisational) vs. external (action outcome) impacts, and perceived (e.g. perceived usefulness) vs. objective (e.g. reduction in task time) can be discerned. Environmental DIST developers tend to focus on external impacts to the neglect of internal impacts and the fact that organisations are typically the main means of policy and management action and therefore critical elements in the chain between information and outcome. Taking desertification as a case study area of environmental policy and management a questionnaire based study has shown that DISTs are viewed on the whole as yielding positive internal (efficiency) and external (effectiveness) benefits but that a range of negative internal impacts are of concern including training, cost and the need for organisational change. These are discussed.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Assessing the impact of environmental decision and information support tools

A key aim of developing environmental models and software is to provide decision and information support to environmental policy and management. In developing such technologies we, as a community of scientists and computer specialists, hope to provide tools which exert a positive impact on policy and management processes, actions and outcomes. We want to contribute to a diverse range of objectives from better managing scarce resources, through mediating and avoiding conflict, to maintaining adaptivity and promoting sustainable development. As ever greater numbers of decision and information support tools (DISTs) are developed to support environmental decision making it is therefore important that we develop a clear understanding of the impacts we intend these technologies to exert, compared to the impacts they actually exert. So what impacts do environmental DISTs have on policy and management organisations and activities? The IS literature distinguishes between impacts based on scale (HCI – task – organisational) and life cycle stage. Within these categories internal (organisational) vs. external (action outcome) impacts, and perceived (e.g. perceived usefulness) vs. objective (e.g. reduction in task time) can be discerned. Environmental DIST developers tend to focus on external impacts to the neglect of internal impacts and the fact that organisations are typically the main means of policy and management action and therefore critical elements in the chain between information and outcome. Taking desertification as a case study area of environmental policy and management a questionnaire based study has shown that DISTs are viewed on the whole as yielding positive internal (efficiency) and external (effectiveness) benefits but that a range of negative internal impacts are of concern including training, cost and the need for organisational change. These are discussed.