How Can We Make Progress with Decision Support Systems in Landscape and River Basin Management? Lessons Learned from a Comparative Analysis of Four Different Decision Support Systems
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This article analyses the benefits and shortcomings of the recently developed decision support systems (DSS) FLUMAGIS, Elbe-DSS, CatchMODS, and MedAction. The analysis elaborates on the following aspects: (i) application area/decision problem, (ii) stakeholder interaction/users involved, (iii) structure of DSS/model structure, (iv) usage of the DSS, and finally (v) most important shortcomings. On the basis of this analysis, we formulate four criteria that we consider essential for the successful use of DSS in landscape and river basin management. The criteria relate to (i) system quality, (ii) user support and user training, (iii) perceived usefulness and (iv) user satisfaction. We can show that the availability of tools and technologies for DSS in landscape and river basin management is good to excellent. However, our investigations indicate that several problems have to be tackled. First of all, data availability and homogenisation, uncertainty analysis and uncertainty propagation and problems with model integration require further attention. Furthermore, the appropriate and methodological stakeholder interaction and the definition of ‘what end-users really need and want’ have been documented as general shortcomings of all four examples of DSS. Thus, we propose an iterative development process that enables social learning of the different groups involved in the development process, because it is easier to design a DSS for a group of stakeholders who actively participate in an iterative process. We also identify two important lines of further development in DSS: the use of interactive visualization tools and the methodology of optimization to inform scenario elaboration and evaluate trade-offs among environmental measures and management alternatives.