Decision makers, whether individuals or delegated authorities, often operate in a data-poor environment that fails to provided the information needed to optimize opportunities. Accurate, replicable characterization of the complex web of individual and social behaviors is a necessary first step to manage changes in ecosystems services that humans rely on.
Engaging stakeholders as research partners early on results in more effective decision making-tools. Using new computer expertise and social media, we can create interactive decision-making tools with real-life virtual worlds. We finally can close an open social-ecological feedback loop, providing informed iteration of future urban development and climate change scenarios to stakeholders and policy-makers.
Idaho scientists are learning how citizens and decision-makers envision goods and services that their local environment provides. Through engagement with stakeholder groups, they are developing tools that use climate and watershed data to build virtual worlds in a game-like platform.