Using Web 2.0 as a deliberation technique in Spatial Decision Making

Compared with the M.C. ER’s  “Decision Support Systems: A Summary, Problems, and Future Trends” from 1988 and the “The use of Web 2.0 concepts to support deliberation in spatial decision-making.” by Rinner et al. shows the progression of the DSS since its inception. Information gathering and sources of information are no longer limited – a wider audience of professionals and non-professionals in the field are able to participate in the debate significant to them. “Graphical and other sophisticated displays” (M.C. ER’s, 1988) has now evolved from a pretty user interface to also encompass a geographical aspect through the incorporation of GIS, and easy to use geospatial interfaces like Google Map.

A real benefit to utilizing web 2.0 is the efficiency to gather information from a variety of sources. By using an increasingly sophisticated World Wide Web and taking advantage to the space-time compression, the forum is open to anyone with Internet access to contribute their ideas and opinions. At the same time, opening the forum to such a wide range of audiences can cause an overload of information that can be hard to manage, and prove as credited sources.

The authors have touched on the desire of using Web 2.0 and PGIS to assist in the decision making process. Since the article has been written in 2008, a quick Google scholar search shows ~ 7000 results (dating from 2009 or later) from using the search criteria “web 2.0, spatial decision, policy, public participation”. To me, this indicates that this field continues to gain momentum and show real opportunities in changing the way decisions tend to be made in a top down manner. However, are the professionals and decision makers open to involving a wider audience who may not be as academically qualified?  Gathering the data, and analyzing it takes a tremendous amount of time as well, which can deter policy makers from taking advantage of these tools. I see this as a huge opportunity in the urban planning field, where no one can be categorized as inappropriately qualified. By living in the city, planning decisions made will inherently affect your day to day life where those opinions should have some weighting in the decision making process.



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