Computer supported reconnaissance planning : implementing a planning methodology with geographical information system in Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands

R. Eweg

    Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


    <br/> <p><em>Goal</em><br/>One of the themes of the research at the Department of Physical Planning and Rural Development in Wageningen Agricultural University is the planning within the field of tension between sustainability and flexibility. This research has resulted in a method called the 'reconnaissance planning approach', first described by Kleefmann, in which possible directions of development are formulated for an area. The aim of this approach is not only to find the best possible spatial organization for an area, but also to encourage the discussion about the normative choices that underlie a planning process. Information systems are regarded as valuable means to operationalize this methodology.<p>Another Wageningen researcher, van Lammeren, developed a prototype of a planning support system named <em>RISOR.</em> The structure of the <em>RISOR</em> system was based on an analysis of the planning methodology as described by Kleefmann. The research described in this thesis is a further elaboration of the work done by van Lammeren and Kleefmann.<br/>Its main goal was:<br/> <p>'To operationalize the methodology of 'searching for possible directions of development' (i.e. the reconnaissance planning approach), at a regional level, using Geographical Information Systems. From the results of a case study, it should be possible to evaluate the concept of the planning support system <em>RISOR</em> and to assess that system's structure in terms of its capacity to store the knowledge used and generated during the case study in an accessible way'.<br/>This goal was expressed in three questions:<br/>- how can the reconnaissance planning approach be operationalized at a regional level?<br/>- how can Geographical Information Systems support such an operationalization?<br/>- is the structure of the prototype of <em>RISOR</em> sufficient to store the knowledge acquired during the planning process?<p>At the beginning of the research, a study area had to be chosen. The choice was determined by methodological considerations, availability of data and opportunities for cooperation with colleagues during the research. These considerations resulted in the catchment areas of the lowland brooks Beerze, Reuse] and Voorste Stroom in the province of Noord Brabant being selected as the study area. For practical reasons, the research was limited to agriculture and nature, particularly their physical aspects. Additionally, some economic information was derived from economic statistics.<p><em>Methodology</em><br/>In the case study, a reconnaissance planning process was carried out, within the constraints described above and the practical and methodological constraints connected with the laboratory situation in which the process was carried out. Because of the conceptual nature of the planning theory and <em>RISOR,</em> plus the limited experience regarding GIS applications in planning and the constraints of the available facilities, this research was exploratory in nature.<p>The aim of the research was to carry out a reconnaissance planning process with the help of GIS and to describe systematically the main knowledge types discemed by the <em>RISOR</em> information system: object, normative and process knowledge. The methods used during the planning process constitute the 'method knowledge'. Subsequently, these knowledge types had to be stored in the databases of <em>RISOR.</em><p>The object knowledge was generated by collecting and digitizing. The planning process began with the formulation of normative notions for the plan construction and the drawing up of the accompanying plans. Final stages of the process were the visualization and the evaluation of the resulting plans. The planning process was done using GIS. Finally, the knowledge used in and resulting from the case study was stored in the <em>RISOR</em> system. To make this possible, the planning process carried out had to be described in terms of the <em>RISOR</em> concept.<p><em>Results</em><br/>The spatial organization in the study area, i.e. the object of planning, was described according to the systematics of a theoretical model of the socio-physical organization. So that they could be inserted in the GIS, these theoretical models were formalized. Both types of models constitute the basic object knowledge used in the case study.<p>In this case study, three types of normative knowledge were discerned, based on their abstractness and on statements regarding the planning process. The most abstract normative knowledge was called 'intention'. Two intentions were formulated:<br/>1 . an anthropocentric intention, with privately owned means of production and a governing body that 'follows' the market, from a technocratic position,<br/>2. an ecocentric intention, with privately owned means of production and a governing body that 'guides' the market in a sociocratic way.<p>In the process knowledge, the normative, object and method knowledge are integrated. A systematic description of the planning process constitutes the process knowledge. A description of the various (GIS) methods and techniques which had been employed formed part of the process knowledge. The planning process in the case study was unfolded into four phases: description, interpretation, concrete intentions and plan generation. It was preceded by the formulation of intentions and followed by the decision-making phase. These six phases were taken as a guideline for the systematic description of the planning process. The resulting maps of the plans show the possible spatial organizations for the two normative intentions. The final part of the case study involved storing the knowledge categories in the <em>RISOR</em> system.<p><em>Conclusions</em><br/>In answer to the question of how GIS could support an operationalization of the reconnaissance planning approach, it is concluded from the experiences obtained during the case study that the raster software used in that study was an adequate too] to model the object and the segments of the planning process itself. Its speed, ability to handle large quantities of complex data and to evaluate the results of each step, and the facilities for registering the process with the help of command files proved essential. Furthermore, it is concluded that at the start of a GISsupported planning process, a suitable methodology and analysis model have to be chosen to serve as a basis for that process; it should be carefully considered if and where the use of GIS will support the process.<p>Another conclusion is that GIS can only be used for activities that can be described in formal models, and therefore it is not to be expected that an entire planning process can be automated. The development of knowledge systems will probably not only lead to more attention being paid to the knowledge used in the planning process, but will also allow the experience and expertise of specialists and other planners that was developed in earlier projects to be exploited. The advantage of the reconnaissance planning approach is that by using it the planning process will lose its 'black box' character, and that GIS will enable the discussion of the spatial models resulting from a planning exercise to be brought forward and will enlarge the scope for discussing the process itself.<p>Although the overall conclusion is that the structure of the <em>RISOR</em> system satisfied the requirements for storing the types of knowledge acquired during the case study, the system could still be improved further by making its classification of the knowledge and access to the database more flexible, adding modules for storing information about the method knowledge, and increasing its user-friendliness.<p>Regarding the planning methodology, it is concluded that the case study was not a true replication of a reconnaissance planning approach, as it was not the result of interdisciplinary teamwork, the intentions were not the result of a political discussion and there was no final discussion and decision about the resulting spatial models. Nevertheless, the case study illustrated the first section of a reconnaissance planning process, restricted by constraints on time and available labour. It certainly demonstrated that reconnaissance planning could be operationalized at a regional level using GIS, within the constraints of the laboratory setting of the study.<p>As the changing position of government in society seems to advocate exploratory planning exercises, the applicability of the reconnaissance planning approach in practice was discussed. It is concluded that the application of reconnaissance planning exercises would strengthen the process of searching for the most appropriate and desired future spatial development.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Kleefmann, F., Promotor, External person
    • Ottens, H.F.L., Promotor, External person
    Award date6 May 1994
    Place of PublicationWageningen
    Print ISBNs9789054852582
    Publication statusPublished - 1994


    • physical planning
    • planning
    • policy
    • development
    • geographical information systems
    • netherlands
    • noord-brabant

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