A spatial decision support framework for web-based, multi-stakeholder engagement : case study of geothermal power project siting in Idaho
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Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) represents an emerging decision aid tool in the field of natural resource decision-making. This thesis involves research into the application of a multi-criteria spatial decisions support system (MC-SDSS) to support favorability mapping of geothermal resource potential. The main goal is to provide proof of concept of a tool that can facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement during site selection of a potential power generation facility. It presents information on the history and development of spatial decision support systems in the field of environmental and natural resource decision-making, as well as a case study of a MC-SDSS tool--entitled the "Heatseeker" application-- developed and applied to geothermal resource potential in the Eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho. This research was first conducted under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy National Geothermal Student Competition. The Heatseeker application and supporting infrastructure utilizes a client/server system architecture that provides users with access to spatial and tabular data with low bandwidth requirements. Client-side scripting is used to execute a weighted linear combination (WLC) model and provide users with display and report functionality. Additionally, the tool is optimized for use with a gesture-enabled touch device that serves as a boundary object to facilitate participatory stakeholder engagement. The result of this research is a proof of concept in supporting future MC-SDSS design that can be applied both to geothermal favorability mapping and other natural resource management processes. This work draws upon the research traditions of multiple academic disciplines, including operations research, computer science, cognitive and behavioral psychology, economics, and public policy. The initial development and application of the MC-SDSS tool involved a team of graduate and undergraduate students from geoscience and social science disciplines. Transdisciplinary approaches to problem structuring and decision-making such as this are an increasingly common approach to natural resource issues.