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Decision Support is a primary function of GIS. By providing decision makers with an analytical environment that enables them to review and find relationships among voluminous spatial data, GIS can facilitate more informed decision-making. Examples include responses to natural crises (wildfire, earthquake, volcanic eruption, storms, floods), smart urban growth, or environmental cleanup.

A decision support system might be made up of several components, including a data repository for large amounts of pertinent data, a data management and visualization environment for combining spatial data layers (maps), tools for spatial analysis, and methods for reviewing results of 'what-if' scenarios (e.g., predictive models of natural processes). Examples of how GIS supports management decisions are given below.

Natural Hazards Mitigation

As an example of Decision Support in the area of natural hazards mitigation, the GIS team is managing information (both environmental and infrastructure-related) for effective use in mitigating future hazards as well as disaster management. Our work on the GIS for the Cerro Grande [wildfire] Rehabilitation Project (CGRP-GIS) involved the development of a dynamic data repository for fire-related spatial data, as well as Web-based visualization tools and download capabilities for making the data available. The repository expands with the addition of new environmental and infrastructure data and results of predictive simulations (e.g., flood and erosion). This project serves both the LANL research community and facility management. The GIS enabled facility managers to plan and analyze the effectiveness of extensive tree-thinning to reduce fire hazards on Laboratory property.

A longer-term goal for GISLab Decision Support applications is to link various numerical models of physical processes, such as runoff and flooding, for use with near-real-time studies of disaster scenarios. Such modeling applications would be done within the framework of the spatial data repository. The methodology would be documented for future use in other natural hazard scenarios such as volcanic eruption, earthquake, etc.

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