Publications / SAND Report

Decision insight into stakeholder conflict for ERN

Siirola, John D.; Tidwell, Vincent C.; Warrender, Christina E.; Morrow, James D.; Benz, Zachary O.

Participatory modeling has become an important tool in facilitating resource decision making and dispute resolution. Approaches to modeling that are commonly used in this context often do not adequately account for important human factors. Current techniques provide insights into how certain human activities and variables affect resource outcomes; however, they do not directly simulate the complex variables that shape how, why, and under what conditions different human agents behave in ways that affect resources and human interactions related to them. Current approaches also do not adequately reveal how the effects of individual decisions scale up to have systemic level effects in complex resource systems. This lack of integration prevents the development of more robust models to support decision making and dispute resolution processes. Development of integrated tools is further hampered by the fact that collection of primary data for decision-making modeling is costly and time consuming. This project seeks to develop a new approach to resource modeling that incorporates both technical and behavioral modeling techniques into a single decision-making architecture. The modeling platform is enhanced by use of traditional and advanced processes and tools for expedited data capture. Specific objectives of the project are: (1) Develop a proof of concept for a new technical approach to resource modeling that combines the computational techniques of system dynamics and agent based modeling, (2) Develop an iterative, participatory modeling process supported with traditional and advance data capture techniques that may be utilized to facilitate decision making, dispute resolution, and collaborative learning processes, and (3) Examine potential applications of this technology and process. The development of this decision support architecture included both the engineering of the technology and the development of a participatory method to build and apply the technology. Stakeholder interaction with the model and associated data capture was facilitated through two very different modes of engagement, one a standard interface involving radio buttons, slider bars, graphs and plots, while the other utilized an immersive serious gaming interface. The decision support architecture developed through this project was piloted in the Middle Rio Grande Basin to examine how these tools might be utilized to promote enhanced understanding and decision-making in the context of complex water resource management issues. Potential applications of this architecture and its capacity to lead to enhanced understanding and decision-making was assessed through qualitative interviews with study participants who represented key stakeholders in the basin.