Home ITCResearchPhD projectsThe institutionalisation of Planning Support Systems (PSS) in the planning process

The institutionalisation of Planning Support Systems (PSS) in the planning process

What's the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation about?
Student:Debbie Oyeku
Timeline:February 2021 - 1 February 2025

Planning support systems (PSS) are integrated systems of GIS tools, spatial & non-spatial data, and methodologies to support decision-making in various planning activities and processes. The Spatial Development Framework (SDF) methodology is a PSS developed to support decision-making processes at various government levels for creating spatial strategies for physical planning, development and governance (Spaliviero, Boerboom, Gibert, Spaliviero, & Bajaj, 2019). It was first designed and applied in 2011. Since then, it has been redeveloped and adapted for various application purposes over the last ten years in different countries in the Global South (Table 1).

Table 1: SDF methodology applications in the last ten years. Source: Oyeku, D. A., 2021

The SDF methodology applications prove that there is repeated or routine use of PSS in practice. For instance, since 2015, the SDF methodology has provided geo-spatial tools, technologies and methodologies for decision making in Rwanda for various planning processes to date (Figure 1). However, like many other PSS applications, we cannot infer or ascertain that such repeated or routine use and applications make PSS an institutionalised procedure in the planning process. Therefore, this research deviates from the limited use perspectives in PSS research to propose a shift to investigate real-world case studies of PSS applications to explain the basis for the repeated use, routine use or potential institutionalisation of PSS in the planning process.


Figure 1:The spatial development framework (SDF) methodology application in Rwanda. Source: Boerboom, L., 2020

The main research objective is to provide insights into the institutionalisation of PSS in the planning process from real-world case studies. It intends to document fact-based knowledge from different application case studies of the SDF methodology to ascertain where, when, how and why the institutionalisation happens or otherwise. It aims to explain the a) motivations, b) mechanisms (actions and processes), and c) networks of agencies involved in PSS repeated or routine use and how it shapes the institutionalisation of PSS in the planning process.

The assemblage of findings from a, b and c will document the patterns, stages, processes and extents of the institutionalisation (or otherwise) of the SDF methodology in the planning process. This research intends to serve as 1) the proposal for another research agenda and 2) another methodological lens for scientific communities involved in the research and development of geo-spatial technologies and methodologies.


Spaliviero, M., Boerboom, L., Gibert, M., Spaliviero, G., & Bajaj, M. (2019). The Spatial Development Framework to facilitate urban management in countries with weak planning systems. International Planning Studies, 0(0), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/13563475.2019.1658571

Meet the team

D.A. Oyeku MSc (Debbie)
Graduate Student
prof.dr. K. Pfeffer (Karin)
dr.ir. L.G.J. Boerboom (Luc)
dr. A.M. Madureira (Mafalda)
Research theme
People, Land and Urban Systems

In PLUS research, people are our focus. Everyone is included, from societal thought-leaders, to government policy makers, to high-level civil society advocates – through to entrepreneurs and citizens, including the disenfranchised. These people are our collaborators, our participants, our beneficiaries, our users. PLUS focuses on understanding the spatial information needs of society and responding to those needs in responsible ways – as tools, as systems, as infrastructure, or as ways of thinking. Our work sits at the nexus of urbanization, land tenure, governance, climate change, and transportation – and the grand challenges of sustainability and social equity in the age of the anthropocene.

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