Towards a coastal spatial decision support system for multiple-use management




Canessa, Rosaline Regan

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The coast is subject to increasing pressure from a multitude of often competing users. Coastal managers are faced with the challenge of balancing the distribution and activities of users. They must take into account user conflicts, environmental impacts, socioeconomic benefits, and the voices of the coastal community. On another stream. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are being heralded as decision support tools. These tools range from inventory warehouses to dedicated Spatial Decision Support Systems (SDSS) to impending Collaborative Spatial Decision Making Systems (CSDMS) for decision-making groups. This research investigated the marriage of these two fields, coastal management and GIS, through the development and pilot implementation of a Coastal SDSS for multiple-use management. The investigation was pursued by exploring the component parts of a Coastal SDSS: (1) the decision makers and process within which they function; (2) the analysis upon which decisions are made; and (3) the data which are analysed and in themselves contribute to an understanding of the decision problem and solution. Information and observations for each of these components were gathered and woven together from five sources: (1) literature survey; (2) a two-phase questionnaire of coastal decision makers; (3) interviews of participants of a resource management multi-stakeholder process; (4) non-participant observation of an ongoing coastal management process; and (5) two workshops involving the pilot implementation of a Coastal SDSS to evaluate its effectiveness for group-based coastal management. The workshops, involving members from eight stakeholder groups, formed part of a current coastal management initiative in Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island. The pilot Coastal SDSS was programmed in Arclnfo™. It included the development of position analysis and multi-criteria analysis models accessed from a customised interface. The results from the workshops were assimilated with previous findings into design and implementation specifications of a Coastal SDSS. Twenty-one specifications are made for the development and implemention of a Coastal SDSS under categories of: 1) format; 2) decision making; 3) analysis; and 4) data. A chauffeur-driven system is advocated as the preferred format of implementation directed by a GIS facilitator and GIS analyst. Of critical importance to the successful implementation of a Coastal SDSS is adequate preparation of technical accessibility for participants. The decision making approach of a Coastal SDSS should lie in the generation and evaluation of alternatives with an emphasis on graphic communication and dynamic decision making. The analytical component of a Coastal SDSS must balance quantitative analysis with qualitative, and deterministic with interactive. Analytical specifications recommended include capability analysis, spatial coincidence, multi-criteria analysis, consensus evaluation, alternative evaluation, environmental modelling and generic GIS functionality. The points of emphasis for the data component include a taxonomy of coastal inventory with particular reference to coastal use and administrative framework, representation of the coast as a continuous transition zone between marine and terrestrial environments, cartographic communication geared towards decision making, and a metadata strategy for managing data quality. This research concludes that Coastal SDSS can fill a void in and enhance coastal management particularly with respect to supporting communication and objective spatial analytical methods. However, decision makers were cautious in embracing a central role for Coastal SDSS. Their concerns can be addressed by involving the full range of coastal decision makers in the design and development of Coastal SDSS particularly through experimental research design and by incorporating GIS into coastal management curricula.



Coastal zone management, Spatial analysis (Statistics)