Are decision-makers, and public ones in particular, considering the spatial characteristics of territories when they are making decisions? Which elements should be included in computer-based systems supporting such decisions? These two questions summarise the issues geographic information system scientists are addressing. They also constitute the starting point of this investigation on the theme of ‘errors and uncertainty in spatial decision support systems’.
While decision theories, methodologies and techniques abound, none are peculiar to spatial issues. At best, they are using spatial data and in a few cases they are applied to helping solve spatial problems. It has been recognised that spatial data need distinct management systems. Should it be the same for spatial decisions?
By postulating that ‘spatial decision’ is a specific field requiring its own treatise, this author initiates an original reflexion. Following a holistic approach, this theoretical work develops a conceptual decision model: the 'decisional fountain'. This model gives a coherent and integrated view on the various fields of decision-making. Based on the postulate and on the model developed, several theories and techniques are revisited in a truly spatial perspective.
The ontology of spatial decision has been enriched by a variety of experiences. Dealing with drought at the European level, allocating water resources from the field scale to the country scale, regional spatial planning, performing strategic environmental assessment, conceptualising the parking of a vehicle, developing the spatial abilities of children,… all have fed this conceptual research. Some of them are illustrating this manuscript.
Taking a spatial information science perspective, this manuscript leads you towards a 'spatial decision' theory.