A Study of Geographic Information Technology Use in Collaborative Water Resource Planning
The increasing involvement of stakeholder groups in solving spatial decision problems has created a need for information technology capable of supporting collaborative spatial decision making. The goal of this project is to develop a better understanding of how groups of stakeholders may use geospatial technology to enhance collaborative approach to problem solving and decision making. Such knowledge is necessary in order to develop geospatial technology support tools capable of accommodating diverse participants involved in solving location-based decision problems. This project will use a field experiment approach to study the dynamics of collaborative work and decision making supported by geospatial information technology. The experiment will involve true stakeholders invited to engage in a realistic decision problem of water management planning in the Boise River basin in southwestern Idaho. Two groups each with 10 participants will be used: the control group will be exposed only to traditional support tools such as traditional maps, whereas the experimental group will be exposed to collaborative decision support tools such as geographic information system (GIS) -based maps and three-dimensional visualizations. The human-computer-human interaction process during the experiment will be captured using professional video cameras. A tested social-behavioral science technique called "interaction coding" will be employed to compile data logs from the experiment and exploratory sequential data analysis techniques will be used to analyze the data. Parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures will be used to test a number of research hypotheses.
Dealing with location-based decision problems in an open manner is becoming more important as stakeholder participation increases in land use, natural resource, and environmental decision making. The primary rationale for enhanced stakeholder participation in environmental decision making is based on the democratic maxim that those affected by a decision should participate directly in the decision making process. The project results are expected to expand knowledge about the impacts of geospatial information technology on collaborative decision processes engaging diverse groups of stakeholders. Moreover, the project will help develop and share a better understanding of the integration needs for information technology involving geographic information systems, decision models, and group collaboration support tools.