Using Geographical Information Systems for decision-support in national development planning

Rapid population growth and its effect on the environment is one of the main concerns of development practitioners. Computer modelling tools have been used to explore the effects of proposed interventions, allowing agencies to quickly see where methods might be incompatible or have adverse or unexpected effects. The GIS is one such system, and is open to abuse if used to legitimise existing policy. The author sets out a two-process Policy and Decision Support System, which he feels is more context specific and less open to abuse since it involves the end-users in the development of the exploratory models. Using Operational Research techniques in combination with Complex Systems Modelling, he argues, should ensure that the design and implementation of programmes can be carefully explored and mutually agreed.