W6: Developing tools to support environmental management and policy

Organiser: Brian S. McIntosh, School of Water Sciences, Cranfield University, UK; Sean Wang, Computer Science Department, University of Vermont, USA; Prof. Carlo Giupponi, Universitą Statale di Milano and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Italia; Alexey Voinov, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, USA

Guest speaker: Prof. Court Smith from Oregon State University Department of Anthropology

Sound decisions in environmental management and policy usually require the examination of alternative solutions (in terms of continuous ranges or qualitatively different options), and may require the consideration of alternative problem formulations prior to option assessment. In this context, formal modelling techniques can provide a means of constructing problems, and of generating qualitative and quantitative information for exploring and characterising decision spaces. Computer-based models and modelling technologies consequently have a potentially critical role to play in informing environmental management and policy processes. In particular, tools such as integrated assessment models (IAM) and decision support systems (DSS) have been identified as being well suited to providing information support to complex decision processes. However there is a recognised gap between the claims made about the usefulness of such tools within the academic literature and their demonstrated utility. Potential end-user organisations are often unreceptive to the potential benefits. The question is why, and what, if anything, can be done in terms of improving tool design and usability?

To answer these questions we wish to better understand how data, information and knowledge are acquired and manipulated during processes of human decision-making, and how such processes can be augmented and supported through the use of models and software. The aim of the workshop will therefore be to improve our understanding of the gaps between tool design and tool use, and of how to develop more appropriate tools for environmental management and policy. The following indicative topics will be addressed:

The workshop begins with a presentation from an invited speaker who seeks to synthesise and build upon the accompanying paper presentation session (see session S16 for more information). Participants then split into breakout groups for focussed discussion. Finally, a plenary brings together the work of the breakout groups and permits a wider discussion of their findings.

The main objectives of the workshop is to identify best practice examples in tool design and use, along with key knowledge and research gaps for the environmental modelling and software community to address.

Participation through blog discussion, followed by conference attendance and discussion is warmly welcomed.

Go To Workshop Blog

Position Paper

Brian S. McIntosh, Alexey Voinov, Court Smith, Carlo Giupponi Bridging the gaps between design and use: developing appropriate tools for environmental management and policy


Huub Scholten Modelling Support to Improve the Quality of Environmental Studies
Court Smith Social and Policy Contexts for Environmental Modeling
Jenifer Ticehurst, Dave Rissik, Lachlan Newham, Rebecca Letcher, Tony Jakeman An approach to develop decision support tools for the management of coastal lakes
Neville Crossman Best practice guidelines for biodiversity DSS and prioritisation tools: useful or useless?
Hilary Harp Stakeholder involvement in participatory computer based planning in St. Albans, Vermont
Rien Kolkman A matter of interpretation. Models and their output are interpreted in (conflicting) frames that cause the gaps (between design and use) to be unbridgeable
Anne Gunkel Agent-based modelling: a new approach for bridging the gap between design and use of models in water management?
Brian McIntosh Taking end-users into account - reshaping the environmental decision support research agenda
Patrick Wager Tools supporting environmental management and policy - epistemic and practical limitations
Aaron Racicot
(not attending>
Questions to address at workshop
Eugene Z. Stakhiv, William Werick Applying "Shared Vision" Modeling Principles for Collaborative Integrated Analytical Planning: International Joint Commission (US-Canada) Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River (LOSLR) Study