An Index of Regional Sustainability: a GIS-based multiple criteria analysis decision support system for progressing sustainability. Ecol Complex

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Australia
Ecological Complexity (Impact Factor: 1.93). 12/2009; 6(4):453-462. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecocom.2009.08.006


GIS (Geographical Information Systems) based decision support tools will be useful in helping guide regions to sustainability. These tools need to be simple but effective at identifying, for regional managers, areas most in need of initiatives to progress sustainability. Multiple criteria analysis (MCA) has been used as a decision support tool for a wide number of applications, as it provides a systematic framework for evaluating various options. It has the potential to be used as a tool for sustainability assessment, because it can bring together the sustainability criteria from all pillars, social, economic and environmental, to give an integrated assessment of sustainability. Furthermore, the use of GIS and MCA together is an emerging addition to conducting sustainability assessments.This paper further develops a sustainability assessment framework developed for the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority region of Victoria, Australia by providing a GIS-based decision support system for regional agencies. This tool uses multiple criteria analysis in a GIS framework to assess the sustainability of sub-catchments in the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment. The multiple criteria analysis based on economic, social and environmental indicators developed in previous stages of this project was used as the basis to build a model in ArcGIS®. The GIS-based multiple criteria analysis, called An Index of Regional Sustainability Spatial Decision Support System (AIRS SDSS), produced maps showing sub-catchment sustainability, and environmental, social and economic condition. As a result, this tool is able to highlight those sub-catchments most in need of assistance with achieving sustainability. It will also be a valuable tool for evaluation and monitoring of strategies for sustainability. This paper shows the usefulness of GIS-based multiple criteria analysis to enhance the monitoring and evaluation of sustainability at the regional to sub-catchment scale.


Available from: Wallis Anne, Dec 16, 2013
    • "The mainly used sustainability assessment methodology is an indicator-based assessment based upon setting environmental and socio-economic criteria that are used to evaluate and to monitor the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainability [18]. For example, Graymore et al. [14] proposed a decision support system (DSS) incorporating sustainability indicators with a multi-criteria decision analysis and a Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to assess the regional sustainability in southwest Victoria. Loucks and Gladwell [16] proposed a sustainability index methodology for water resource systems using a weighted combination of the reliability, resiliency, and vulnerability performance criteria. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this paper, an interactive decision support system is proposed to assist experts who prepare water resource management plans for decision makers and stakeholders. Several visualization techniques such as circle views, grid layout, small multiple maps, and simplification of nodes are combined to improve the data readability of water distribution systems. Views showing the original data and insets for dual network scenarios for further water demand scenarios complement the proposed visualization technique. Further, textual descriptions of the sustainability indices and water usage provide more detailed information. This is complemented by interaction techniques that ease the comparison of different water demand scenarios. Selecting circle views, zooming into an area of interest in the original data view in combination with linked views and a graph for the measured hydraulic simulation values enable users to analyze the scenarios and to understand the causes of individual problems. A case study with three urban water management and sanitary engineering experts was performed to assess this approach. Overall, the results show that the proposed decision support system is satisfactory, efficient, and effective.
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    • "In fact, the maps of criteria identify all suitable areas and the experts' judgements allow classifying these areas on a scale from suitable to optimal (scale of suitability). WLC is one of the most used decision methods in GIS (Dragan et al., 2003; Eastman, 1999; Graymore et al., 2009; P erez et al., 2005; Sim~ ao et al., 2009 Wang et al., 2010), because it is easy to implement using map algebra operations and geospatial overlay. Moreover, linear combination is an intuitive and powerful method to create realistic scenarios easy-to-understand for decisionmakers (Malczewski, 2000). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mariculture is a relatively new activity that is expanding globally and interacts with other coastal uses. Therefore, it is necessary to allocate suitable sites from environmental, economic and social points of view, involving different stakeholders in the decision-making process. In particular, in the Ligurian Sea (Italy), for its environmental characteristics and tradition, fish farming should be further boosted and an accurate marine spatial planning should be done. This paper presents a spatial multi-criteria evaluation (SMCE) addressed to identify suitable areas for siting offshore medium size fish farms in the Ligurian Sea at the regional scale. The SMCE procedure follows an integrated approach that can be potentially adapted and applied to any coastal system. The site selection is based on the definition of criteria that assess their suitability and on conditions related to the entire study area. Suitability values are ranked on a scale from 1 (suitable) to 10 (optimal). More than 9000 ha were identified and almost 40% of this area gets high suitability values, from 7 to 9, pointing out the untapped potential for Ligurian marine coastal zone. Results demonstrate that our SMCE, and in particular its procedure, allows identifying the most suitable areas in an easy and quick way and solving effectively the complex spatial problem of suitable site selection for fish farming.
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    • "In most cases presented in the literature, unification is performed via " qualitative unification " : presenting the results in terms " good " or " bad " , colour charts, complex diagrams (Finkbeiner et al. 2010). The biggest progress has been achieved in works connected with system analysis, where authors perceived the socio-economic and environmental systems as a holistic system with complex interactions and connections (Graymore et al. 2008Graymore et al. , 2009Graymore et al. , 2010). One of the most successful examples for the combination of sustainable triple nature is the perception of connections in a form of financial flows (Hendrickson et al. 1998Hendrickson et al. 2006 Kytzia et al. 2004). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Read online: Currently there is no universal sustainability assessment methodology, which would be applicable by policy-makers for identification of regional development paths, policies’ effectiveness and potential changes to sustainable development of regions. This paper reviews the best practices for sustainability assessment and identifies the needs of regional systems. Further, we propose the concept of regional sustainability assessment methodology (RSAM). It includes natural, social and economic capital transfer accounting through extended input–output tables and cyclicity analyses. RSAM reflects static and dynamic qualities of regional system for the assessment of development paths and policies effectiveness. Further methodological development of concept findings is needed. En la actualidad no existe una metodología universal para evaluar la sostenibilidad, con la que los formuladores de políticas pudieran identificar estrategias de desarrollo regional, la eficacia de las políticas y los posibles cambios en el desarrollo sostenible de las regiones. Este artículo revisa las mejores prácticas para la evaluación de la sostenibilidad e identifica las necesidades de los sistemas regionales. Además, propone el concepto de la metodología de evaluación de la sostenibilidad regional (RSAM, por sus siglas en inglés). Ésta incluye el balance de transferencias de capital natural, social y económico mediante tablas input-output ampliadas yanálisis de la ciclicidad. La RSAM refleja cualidades estáticas y dinámicas del sistema regional para la evaluación de la efectividad de las estrategias y las políticas de desarrollo. Hace falta un mayor desarrollo metodológico de los hallazgos conceptuales.
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