Presenter/Author Information

A. Tanner
Brian McIntosh
A. Seth
D. Widdowson

Keywords

sustainability appraisal, water utilities, decision and information support tools, organisational change

Start Date

1-7-2010 12:00 AM

Description

Computer-based decision and information support tools (DISTs) have potentially important roles to play in the embedding of sustainability appraisal processes into the planning and operation of water utilities. This paper reports on preliminary outcomes from research employing a particular model of sustainability, the Five Capitals model, to identify and facilitate the exploitation of opportunities for improved incorporation of sustainability appraisal into business process and practice within a major UK water and sewerage company (WaSC). In particular, the aims of this paper are to characterise and critically assess WaSC decision and information support needs by interpreting the findings of having applied the Five Capitals model. Five Capitals sustainability principles were applied as a questioning framework in a series of focus groups within the asset delivery business unit of the WaSC. The approach enabled the researcher to create a shared comprehension of sustainability, whilst mapping the perspectives of the business unit as to the form and efficacy of current sustainability appraisal activities. From the results of the focus group the researcher was able to identify key information support needs and to develop a set of sustainability key performance indicators with WaSC staff to service these needs. The results of the focus groups demonstrated that there was no need for computerised decision support, and that the primary role for information support was twofold – (i) to capture data to provide a basis, in the medium-long term, for improved organisational learning about the sustainability performance of different treatment and distribution assets, and; (ii) to capture data to provide a basis, over the short-medium term, for influencing the decisions made by companies contracted to design and build new treatment and distribution assets for the WaSC. These needs contrast against the standard view of the role of decision support as automating certain aspects of human decision-making.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Sustainability, information needs and organisational change in UK water and sewerage companies

Computer-based decision and information support tools (DISTs) have potentially important roles to play in the embedding of sustainability appraisal processes into the planning and operation of water utilities. This paper reports on preliminary outcomes from research employing a particular model of sustainability, the Five Capitals model, to identify and facilitate the exploitation of opportunities for improved incorporation of sustainability appraisal into business process and practice within a major UK water and sewerage company (WaSC). In particular, the aims of this paper are to characterise and critically assess WaSC decision and information support needs by interpreting the findings of having applied the Five Capitals model. Five Capitals sustainability principles were applied as a questioning framework in a series of focus groups within the asset delivery business unit of the WaSC. The approach enabled the researcher to create a shared comprehension of sustainability, whilst mapping the perspectives of the business unit as to the form and efficacy of current sustainability appraisal activities. From the results of the focus group the researcher was able to identify key information support needs and to develop a set of sustainability key performance indicators with WaSC staff to service these needs. The results of the focus groups demonstrated that there was no need for computerised decision support, and that the primary role for information support was twofold – (i) to capture data to provide a basis, in the medium-long term, for improved organisational learning about the sustainability performance of different treatment and distribution assets, and; (ii) to capture data to provide a basis, over the short-medium term, for influencing the decisions made by companies contracted to design and build new treatment and distribution assets for the WaSC. These needs contrast against the standard view of the role of decision support as automating certain aspects of human decision-making.