Multi-Criteria Decision Support Systems for Flood Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Response in Urban Watersheds1


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    Paper No. J05153 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Received October 8, 2005; accepted December 14, 2006. This paper originally was submitted for the Featured Collection on Sustainable Watershed Management, December 2006 (Vol. 42, No.6). © 2007 American Water Resources Association.


Abstract:  Flood management problems are inherently complex, time-bound and multi-faceted, involving many decision makers (with conflicting priorities and dynamic preferences), high decision stakes, limited technical information (both in terms of quality and quantity), and difficult tradeoffs. Multi-Criteria Decision Support Systems (MCDSS) can help to manage this complexity and decision load by combining value judgments and technical information in a structured decision framework. A brief overview of MCDSS is presented, an original MCDSS architecture is put forth, and future research directions are discussed, including extensions to Multi-Criteria Spatial Decision Support Systems and group MCDSS (as flood management involves shared resources and broad constituencies). With application to the September 11-12, 2000 Tokai floods in Japan, the proposed multi-criteria decision support instruments enhance communication among stakeholders and improve emergency management resource allocation. In summary, by making the links among flood knowledge, assumptions and choices more explicit, MCDSS increases stakeholder satisfaction, saves lives, and reduces flood management costs, thereby increasing decision-making effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.