What's the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation about?

The ITC Group Decision Room (GDR) is equipped with state of the art technology of interactive surfaces and tangible user interfaces to facilitate hands-on education and research in the field of collaborative spatial planning and decision making. It is used in various educational programmes in ITC as well as for research projects.

Collaborative decision support procedures aim at involving stakeholders following conflicting objectives in decision-making processes. These processes can be structured into a sequence of converging and diverging steps that make use of various consensus-building methods: stakeholders develop alternative planning scenarios, brainstorm jointly on evaluation criteria for certain plans, sketch different plan alternatives, or assign individual priorities and criteria weights during an assessment.

These various steps go along with a frequent change of working modes, from individual activities to large group collaborations, aiming to converge to a consensus decision in the end. The GDR is set up in order to facilitate this process of convergence and divergence during collaborative decision making. Various hard- and software components can be utilized to support the different phases of spatial decision making.


Since 2010 various courses and programmes at ITC make frequent use of the ITC group decision room and its facilities. The room is used in short or tailor made courses on spatial scenario development and analysis, collaborative decision making, or environmental impact analysis. For details on the various courses offered by ITC please see the ITC course finder or contact staff of the Group decision room.

The room can host up to 20 students. For larger audiences the room can be enlarged through incorporation of the adjacent lecture room. Parts of the GDR can be used at other locations and even abroad to form a mobile GDR. One of the touch tables is implemented in a flight case as a portable version.


Research in, on and with the GDR is focusing on the following leading questions:

  • How do the GDR and planning and decision making processes shape each other mutually?
  • How are social and user aspects of interactive group decision making influenced by the GDR?
  • How to develop proper collaborative decision making software to be used in the GDR?

Current research projects:

Tools and applications

An increasing number of regional and local groups are striving to reduce their reliance on carbon polluting fuels and reducing their overall dependency on foreign energy sources. This results in new challenges related to the strategic placement of Renewable Energy Landscape Features such as Wind Turbines and Solar Panels. In order to help communities collect information related to various implementation scenarios we have developed an interactive mapping game (COLLAGE – Collaborative Location and Allocation Gaming Environment) that supports discussion and negotiation about the pros and cons of different paths to a larger supply of local renewable energy. These discussions are supported by local technical, economic and social knowledge provided by the workshop staff and by the participants.  In this way we co-develop the knowledge needed to help support local pathways to a lower carbon economy.

This tool was developed through the EU FP7 funded research project: COMPLEX.

If you would like information on this research, or about how we can support your local energy initiative please contact us directly.

Equipment and technologie

The GDR makes use of cutting edge technology of interactive surfaces and tangible user interfaces. These are large touch-enabled screens and tables used to support stakeholder collaboration through common visualization and spatial information handling.


Two different types of interactive surfaces are included in ITC’s GDR: a large scale (77 inch) digital whiteboard system mounted to the wall, that can be used for large group interactions and three horizontal tabletops (touch tables of 32 and 42 inch,), to be used for small group (up to six members) interactions. In addition a separate computer network is implemented that facilitates individual input of participants in a decision making process.


The touch tables are equipped with recent GIS- and Planning Support software like ArcGIS®, CommunityViz PSS, etc. For collaborative decision making Accord™ Enterprise Decision Management Software is running in the GDR. Further software included in the room supports group activities like brainstorming, collaborative mind mapping, digital discussions and cooperative learning. 

Contact us

If you are interested in using the Group Decision Room for facilitating your group decision making please contact the staff listed below. We set up tailor made training courses for the GDR as well as specific workshop sessions for research projects.