Making computer models useful in environmental decision making (journal article)
Dietz, T., Tanguay, J., Tuler, S., and Webler, T. 2004. Making Computer Models Useful: An Exploration of Expectations by Modelers and Local Officials. Journal of Coastal Management, 32(3): 307-318

Publication Abstract

Recent trends indicate an increasing use of computer modeling in support of local environmental policy-making. The ability of such models to improve local environmental decision making will depend not only on the characteristics of the models but also on those who will draw on them in making local policy—local government officials. In this study we examine the views of town officials concerned about nitrogen levels in local estuaries about computer models developed to inform their understandings and decisions regarding nitrogen loading. We also compare the views of the town officials with a sample of modelers. We find that town officials are supportive of models and the scientists who build them. However, town officials seek more information about the impacts of changes at small spatial scales (e.g., house building lots) than current models provide or modelers believe that they can accurately provide. Town officials are also interested in more distant endpoints in the causal chain (e.g., effects on fish populations) than the modelers feel comfortable providing. Finally, our findings suggest that town officials are not supportive of broad public use of the models. 

Publication File