Participatory GIS Support for Collaborative Water Resource Decision Making:
Results of a Field Experiment

Timothy Nyerges, Piotr Jankowski, David Tuthill, and Kevin Ramsey

Paper submitted to Annals of the Association of American Geographers

This report presents results of an empirical study into the use of a participatory geographic information system (PGIS) called WaterGroup that was developed to support collaborative, conjunctive water resource administration decision making. The overall goal of the project was to evaluate the design of a PGIS in terms of how it impacts the collaborative decision process and collaborative decision outcomes of a decision situation convened by the Idaho Department of Water Resources in the Boise River Basin located in southwestern Idaho. This particular decision process is representative of other decision processes, in which the convener is a local government agency, the stakeholders involved represent the public and advise the decision maker, and the decision process is supported by public access to information stored in GIS. We used a technique called "interaction coding" to compile data from videotapes of two stakeholder-based decision sessions. Coded data are examined using exploratory sequential data analysis techniques. We use three techniques to perform non-parametric, inferential sequential analysis: lag sequential analysis, cycle analysis, and transition analysis. Each analysis makes use of "interaction event codes" developed as part of the three streams of the interaction coding systems redeveloped as part of the project. This being a field experiment, the amount of coded data gathered is not large, therefore parametric analysis is not appropriate as it was in a past empirical study. Additionally, we used questionnaires to gather data regarding participant perceptions of WaterGroup and the decision process. We discuss the findings as well as the implications of these findings for PGIS design. This study report will be of interest to researchers who conduct empirical studies of PGIS use as well as PGIS designers and facilitators who wish to gain a deeper insight into the ways in which PGIS technologies are used in realistic settings.

collaborative decision making, collaborative decision support, participatory GIS, water resource management and planning

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