Date of Award

12-2011

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning and Development (CPD)

Department

Community Planning and Development

First Advisor

Prof. Jack Kartez

Keywords

modeling, systems models, Muskie School of Public Service

Abstract

Complex systems models for urban and regional simulation are increasingly being used as tools within decision-making processes underscoring the need to involve stakeholders in the modeling process. Stakeholder participation can serve both learning and community-building purposes, improving model legitimacy, saliency and accuracy and resolving conflicts over competing interests. However, the complex and highly technical nature of modeling activities has the potential to serve as an important barrier to stakeholder engagement. Members of an online UrbanSim user community were contacted in order to examine stakeholder participation in the development and implementation of UrbanSim models. For analysis purposes, a participation hierarchy was devised, representing three general levels of participation in the modeling process. It was expected that the complexity of UrbanSim models would likely stand as a barrier to the engagement of non-specialists in modeling processes, especially within the development phase. When participation did occur it would most likely take place within the less complex and less time and resource-intensive implementation phase. The type of stakeholder-involved modeling employed at this stage would likely best be characterized as informative modeling, the lowest level in the hierarchy, in which participants are updated on model progress but have little to no influence on the model. The results of the study’s online survey-structured focus group provide some evidence that UrbanSim users are indeed effectively including stakeholders in both model development and implementation and are using higher level forms of participation than expected.

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