GIS, SDSS, what?

Densham’s article outlines the framework and uses of a spatial decision support system. For much of the article I thought of GIS as an SDSS itself–the descriptors Densham uses to define an SDSS seemed to fit GIS. SDSS is iterative, participative, and integrative and GIS is, too; iterative in that the GIS can offer a set of solutions (i.e. position of a toxic waste site), participative because the user is the one actually defining the problem and doing the analysis, and therefore integrative–the user inputs value judgements when making a decision based on the analysis.

Upon further deliberation I started to see the rift between SDSS and GIS. A GIS is a static environment in which you need a structured problem in order to produce any results. Without a research question and a foreseeable goal, I can’t see GIS being of much use. So is that the kicker? SDSS provides an environment for ill-structured problems via cellular automaton modeling? That’s the only difference in use that I can tell from Densham’s article and my current knowledge of GIS.

Regarding the article itself, I thought it was well formatted, and I enjoyed the clean break downs of what DSS and SDSS are, and the framework structure of an SDSS. Because it was written in 1991, I wasn’t sure how much of the noted differences between an SDSS and GIS are still applicable today, which prompted further searches on the topic.

Densham P. J. (1991) Spatial decision support systems, In: D. J. Maguire, M. S. Goodchild and D. W. Rhind (eds) Geographical information systems: principles and applications, London: Longman, pp. 403 – 412.


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