Is SDSS Geoweb’s ancestor?

In an article from the 1980’s, P.J. Densham outlines the concept of a Decision Support System (DSS), which aids the user in a decision-making process that includes a number of complex parameters included in a database. He posits that in many cases, a Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS), which uses the basic framework of a DSS, but with a spatial component, would be quite helpful. He notes that an ideal SDSS would a) allow for spatial input, b) represent spatial relationships and structures, c) include geographical analysis, and d) provide spatial visualizations. This is different from GIS in that SDSS is dynamic, while GIS is more rigid.

The need for a dynamic geographic decision-making process is clear, and in that, Densham is completely correct. However, the problem with reading this article today is that GIS has transformed, in large part, away from its infant stage and more towards Densham’s SDSS. More specifically, the Geoweb, rather than the more orthodox desktop client, incorporates many of the outlined SDSS properties. User-generated content allows for near-real-time data, and modern technology allows for rapid regeneration of content on a web page. In fact, it is interesting to read this article in conjunction with the Rinner et al. article, written roughly two decades later, about the use of user-generated content to structure a GIS. Another application is Google Map’s traffic feature, showing roads as red (heavy traffic), yellow (moderate traffic), or green (little or no traffic). As users see this data, they decide, for instance, to choose the “greenest” path, but if enough people do so, the green path becomes the red path, and the red path eases. The data is thus dynamic, and the map adjusts accordingly.


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