A Decision Support System (DSS) can be defined in many ways. The working definition used by the U.S. Geological Survey Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) is, “A spatially based computer application or data that assists a researcher or manager in making decisions.” This is quite a broad definition—and it needs to be, because the possibilities for types of DSSs are limited only by the user group and the developer’s imagination. There is no one DSS; the types of DSSs are as diverse as the problems they help solve. This diversity requires that DSSs be built in a variety of ways, using the most appropriate methods and tools for the individual application. The skills of potential DSS users vary widely as well, further necessitating multiple approaches to DSS development. Some small, highly trained user groups may want a powerful modeling tool with extensive functionality at the expense of ease of use. Other user groups less familiar with geographic information system (GIS) and spatial data may want an easy-to-use application for a nontechnical audience. UMESC has been developing DSSs for almost 20 years. Our DSS developers offer our partners a wide variety of technical skills and development options, ranging from the most simple Web page or small application to complex modeling application development.
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Decision support system development at the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center