Development of a web application based on MCDA and GIS for the decision support of river and floodplain rehabilitation projects

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Abstract: Rivers have been modified significantly during the last 200 years in Switzerland. These modifications were done for protection purposes (protection against floods), construction of hydropower plants, gain of land or other human activities. These artificial transformations have reduced, sometimes drastically, the natural dynamic of the rivers, which has reduced biodiversity, and has also increased the risk of flood. The awareness of the importance of river in a more natural state has conducted to a modification of the law on water protection in Switzerland (2011) and the rehabilitation of heavily affected rivers has now become a task that all cantons have to tackle. However the choice of which measures are the best to apply is not simple for decision makers who have to take into account multiple factors, but who are also confronted with different stakeholders who do not necessarily all share the same point of view (scientists, farmers, inhabitants, policy makers, ...) The present study has consisted of the development of a Web-GIS (geographic information systems) application to help decision makers in this task, by using the multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) method and by automating all the needed computations. Beside the MCDA computation, the production of maps is also a central functionality. To ensure the reliability of the result, a sensitivity analysis tool was added, which uses the Monte Carlo simulation technique. The application was developed using PHP, Javascript and Java, and by using open source libraries and softwares (for instance Geoserver, Geotools, MySQL,…). It was designed to let possible extensions be added easily, by using a modular approach to perform the different processes. The web application enables a fast and easy computation and enables each user to set his own preferences (including the weights of the different factors). A score for each alternative is given as result, as well as maps. The ease of sharing data and results is also a great advantage in projects such as river restorations, where multiple stakeholders' desires must be taken into account.

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