S16. Bridging the gaps between design and use: developing appropriate tools for environmental management and policy

Chair: Prof. Carlo Giupponi, Universitą Statale di Milano and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Italia

Organisers: Brian S. McIntosh, School of Water Sciences, Cranfield University, UK; Sean Wang, Computer Science Department, University of Vermont, USA; Alexey Voinov, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, USA

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 paper presentation session will focus on sharing design ideas, practice and lessons learned through a series of fifteen minute presentations with five minute Q&A for each. Attendees are then strongly encouraged to discuss the key issues raised through participating in the workshop that accompanies the session. More information can be found under workshop 6.

If you are interested in presenting a paper please email an extended abstract (of 800 words maximum) to Brian S. McIntosh (b.mcintosh@cranfield.ac.uk) by November 30, 2005, indicating whether you would also like to participate in the accompanying workshop session. Accepted papers will appear in the conference proceedings and may be published in a special issue on the theme of the session.