Different Decisions for Users of the Same Decision Support Tool

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Monday, 18 January 2010: 1:45 PM
B312 (GWCC)
Michael B. Chapman, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and E. Haave

The Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) was designed to provide winter road maintenance entities a single organized platform where both weather and road information and forecasts could be blended to provide a useful tool that ideally would help optimize the decisions being made with regard to pavement maintenance during winter weather events. The system is set up in a robust manner providing specific weather (e.g. air temperature, wind speed, precipitation type and amount, etc.) and road (e.g. pavement temperature, road state, etc.) related diagnostics from which the decision-maker can choose according to their needs.

For this particular system, one might assume that different user groups would use the output from the system in a similar manner. Afterall, the goal of the system is to provide the information necessary to increase the efficiency of keeping the road clear of snow and ice. Over the past several years, the system has been tailored to the needs of three different user groups (The City and County of Denver, E-470 Highway Authority, and Denver International Airport) located in the Denver Metropolitan area. While MDSS provides the same type of output to the three groups and in the same manner, the information is used in very different ways.

The purpose of this study is to examine how the three presumably like decision-making groups take the same weather and road information from MDSS and utilize that information to make completely different decisions regarding road weather maintenance. These decisions range from strategic (e.g. planning for shifts, pre-treating of road surface, organizing equipment and materials) to tactical (e.g. hourly snow rates, hourly material usage). The differences in the way the three groups use MDSS not only requires that the system provide robust weather and road forecasts but also that the forecasts from the system be validated specific to the way the decision-maker uses the information.