Learn more about how to use this Directory and DSS’s

The aim of this DSS Directory is to provide end users of decision tools with an understanding of:

  • what tools are available,
  • how they can or have been used, and
  • what is required to use them.

This directory contains key information (metadata) on a wide range of computer models, both spatial and non-spatial, and decision frameworks that can be used in policy development and implementation. The information provided is based on what is primarily publicly available. It is recognised that some DSS are more commercially restricted and that there are many other case studies undertaken that are readily available to be presented here. To find out more about DSS type's and their potential uses see the DSS Overview section.

A brief overview of the DSS Directory can be seen in the following video:


In addition a two page summary of the DSS Directory is provided as PDF (Summary)


The primary audience for this DSS Directory is staff at regional and unitary councils in New Zealand. The long term goal is that the DSS Directory will support decision making across the four well-beings - environmental, economic, social, cultural - within which councils are required to work.

The breadth and depth of DSS's available and used by councils varies across the management domains with a tendency towards environmental and catchment based tools. The development of this directory has been funded by an Envirolink tools grant. The project has been supported by Regional and Unitary Council Special Interest Groups.

Supporting information is also available to users via the menus to the right, to understand the definitions used, the types of DSSs, and their potential applications.

Selecting the Right DSS Tool(s)

Like choosing a new cellphone or car, when selecting a DSS it can be difficult to know if you are making the 'right' choice and there is no easy answer. Like setting some criteria for choosing a new care some tips are provided here.

Tips for Selecting a Decision Support System

  1. Clearly define the questions you need a DSS to help answer.
  2. Define the requirements of the decision making process you intend to follow (timeframes, resources, community participation).
  3. Understand how the information provided by a DSS will need to be presented to be useful for the community engagement and decision making process you intend to follow.
  4. Understand the underlying assumptions and limitations of the DSS. Can you live with these when explaining results and trying to create consensus in decision making?
  5. Understand what data and technical expertise is required to run the DSS. Can you provide or source these?
  6. Check if there are additional costs,  such as software or licencing, involved in using the DSS.
  7. See how easy the DSS is to use - can it be readily included into an existing decision making process?
  8. Check there is support for learning about, setting up, and using the DSS (documentation, case studies, NZ examples/users).
  9. Understand the 'maturity' of the DSS - new and emerging DSSs may require more resourcing to learn and implement.
  10. Do more homework. Take time to explore options and to understand the merits of using different approaches and DSSs.

Suggestions for Improving the Directory?

A Suggestion Box is available to allow ongoing input from Users to suggest other tools and case studies to include in the Directory, or to suggest improvements to the Directory.

Currently the DSSs provided are weighted towards bio-physical parameters such as land and water. This is due in some degree to the historic and recent focus on these issues by councils. The aim is to further populate the Directory with more DSSs from other management domains and outcome areas. If you have any other ideas, please use the Suggestion Box.

Future additions: An active list of other DSS's that could be added to the directory in the future please check this to guide your suggestions

Background Information From the Initial Development of the Directory

  • General Presentation on the Directory as a  - PPT or PDF
  • One Pager -  Promotional Flyer
  • An overview of the project plan for the initial development of this Directory -  (28kb PDF)
  • Final Project Report for initial creation of Directory -  (1.2Mb PDF)
  • Metadata Review report  -   (700k PDF)