Increasingly, the generation of relevant information is the problem since (according to American political scientist, economist and psychologist Herbert Simon) a wealth of information creates poverty of attention.
This online course introduces participants to techniques for selecting and processing data to generate meaningful and timely information to support the better management of resources. To improve decision making, the required information, tools, techniques, models and decision-making procedures can be integrated in a user-friendly information processing system called a spatial decision support system (SDSS). In contrast to other geo-information systems, an SDSS provides insight into assessments of tradeoffs between the various options open to decision makers.
The course is intended for organizations, individual practitioners and spatial analysts with a professional or academic background who support spatial planning and decision-making processes. Although it is interesting for decision makers to establish a way of thinking for themselves, the course also goes into some practical detail. This course is also attractive to PhD students and researchers who want to work with SDSS.
The contents of the course are structured into the following six lessons:
- Why do we need to support decision makers?
- Basic views on the decision-making process
- What is the role of spatial decision support systems in the decision-making process?
- Basic principles of multicriteria analysis
- Spatial multicriteria analysis
- Application of the theory of the decision-making process, multicriteria analysis and spatial multicriteria analysis to case studies. Cases from different disciplines can be chosen.
The lessons are related to the main course objectives as follows:
- Lessons 1-3: Understanding the role of spatial decision support systems in the decision-making process
- Lessons 4-6: Justifying and performing spatial multicriteria evaluation in solving spatial decision problems
We find it important to work with exercises and case studies, because our teaching philosophy follows a Chinese proverb that emphasizes the step from listening and reading to independent practice.
Therefore, lessons 1-5 each offer new material in the form of video presentations, literature and exercises, whereas lesson 6 does not offer any new material but aims at independent (naturally with guidance) application of concepts and practices.
Video: Introduction to ILWIS Spatial Multi-Criteria Evaluation (SMCE)
On completion of this course, participants should be able to:
- explain the principles of decision-making processes and decision support systems
- distinguish between various phases of the decision-making process and their required types of information
- discuss the linkages between GIS and decision support systems
- apply spatial multicriteria decision analysis techniques to combine various layers of information; of different quality, format and type to support the planning and decision-making process
- classify and compare different multicriteria evaluation techniques
- use spatial multicriteria evaluation techniques in proposing an appropriate solution to a spatial problem
- assess and interpret the results of the multicriteria evaluation process.
Our experience is that for these skills to be used in planning and decision-making practice in organizations, it is very important that a critical mass of people in an organization understands the use of spatial planning and decision support systems. An online course means that organizations need not send much staff abroad, yet many can learn.
Spatial planning and decision support systems are applied in many disciplines, ranging from urban planning to integrated watershed management, natural resources management, etc. We focus on methods and methodologies with examples from many disciplines. Therefore, this course is accessible and of interest to many people with different disciplinary backgrounds.
Finally, although examples from developed countries are also used, many examples of applications come from developing countries, which makes the course highly accessible to people from both developing and developed countries.
Upon successful completion of this course you will receive a Certificate which will include the name of the course.
Along with your Certificate you will receive a Course Record providing all the subjects studied as part of the course. It states for each module: the module code, subject, ECTS credits, exam date, location and the mark awarded.
If you decide to follow a full Postgraduate or Master's programme at ITC, and after approval of the Examination Board, you will be exempted from the module(s) you followed successfully as a distance course.
Academic level and background
Applicants for an online course should have a Bachelor degree or equivalent from a recognised university in a discipline related to the course, preferably combined with working experience in a relevant field.
The faculty accepts transcripts, degrees and diplomas in the following languages: Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish. It is at the discretion of the faculty to require additional English translations of all documents in other languages as well.
As all courses are given in English, proficiency in the English language is a prerequisite.
If you are a national of one of the countries in this list (PDF), you are exempted from an English language test.
Please note: the requirements when applying for fellowships may vary according to the regulations of the fellowship provider.
English language tests: minimum requirements
Only internationally recognized test results are accepted.
TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT)
TOEFL Internet-based Test
British Council / IELTS
Applicants for the online education programme must have elementary computer experience, regular access to internet and e-mail. For some courses additional computer skills are required (see description of specific course).
GIS and remote sensing
Most distance courses, except for the introductory course, require knowledge of, and skills in, working with GIS and/or digital image processing of remotely sensed data.
Candidates are asked to provide proof of identity during the registration process.