Progress in Decision Support Systems
Over the past few decades, decision support systems (DSS) have emerged as an important tool for planning and management. Increasing globalization, population growth, and the ever-growing consumption of energy and materials are causing more and more problems in the areas of environment, economy, agriculture, and water.
- Authors / Editors:
- Amgad Elmahdi, Brian McIntosh and James Ascough
We are facing a period of massive change with rising energy prices and dwindling oil supplies. There is an urgent need to decarbonize the global economy, and we must even restructure the way our cities function in order to move away from linear throughput of materials and resources and towards reuse. We need to implement stormwater harvesting systems in order to prevent flooding and the ecological degradation of urban streams, as well as to secure water supplies. Enormous challenges lie ahead and will require significant responses in the areas of behavior, technology and economics. Making policy decisions and tradeoffs is difficult; furthermore, no policy can be effective forever. In order to keep up with rapidly-developing new technology, each policy decision need to be revisited in the light of recent changes. In addition, adoption, adaptation and mitigation are still important issues, which are becoming more and more behaviorally complex challenges.
In the physical domain these problems are complex ones, and in the socio-economic domain they are usually controversial. The broader challenges of sustainable development are of particular interest. For example, how best to effectively dislocate economic productivity from resource and energy throughput? How best to maintain and improve natural capital and ecosystem services? Many of our biggest challenges are societal, located around the energy-water-carbon-food nexus. Improving the situation in one of these areas is likely to impact on another, and an understanding of these tradeoffs is vital to good future policy making. Decision support systems are a group of integrated, structured tools (e.g., information systems, expert systems, tools for scenario analysis, and optimization approaches) that support organizational management, operations, and planning decision-making activities in situations where the decisions may be rapidly changing, fall along a continuum of structured to unstructured, and are difficult to specify in advance. In addition to helping the process of structuring and resolving what action to take when knowledge about the nature and impact of problems (and how best to tackle them) is uncertain and contested, DSS are expected to improve the transparency of decision formulation and solution. With information becoming a commodity, and with the increasing integration of the different tools mentioned, this provides the basis for a new generation of powerful software technology for decision support.
At present there is a notable gap between the research and practice of decision support systems. The existing literature includes ample research coverage on the development side. However, comprehensive reporting on stakeholder adoption and the actual use of decision support systems is still lacking, as is information on how system development and implementation should be organized in order to achieve successful adoption. The “Progress in Decision Support Systems” Book Series aims to help close the gap between research and practice. Each Volume of the Series will report on progress in the development and adoption of DSS in key energy-water-carbon-food problem areas. The Series Volumes will give the reader a clear understanding of the latest DSS concepts, methods, technologies, applications, trends, and issues, and will serve as a basic reference for DSS practice, research, and instruction. In order to achieve these goals, the Series Volumes will cover specially selected themes, with chapters authored by prominent scholars and practitioners from the world-wide DSS community.
Scope of the Series
Books in the Series are designed to cover the following subject areas:
- Ecosystem Health And Services
- Food and Land
- Energy and Technology
- Waste and Recycle
- Urban Futures – People, Infrastructure and Environment
- Climate Change, Adoption and Mitigation