2012 Volume 1 Issue 1 Pages 141-162
This paper aims to introduce the Decision Support System (DSS), which is an area informatics approach to area studies, and the research network complex based on DSS's application in Thailand. In particular, the paper presents and discusses current activities of the DSS research network at the national level in Thailand rather than being a theoretical and analytical study of the DSS mechanism or its cases. DSS has wide applications in Thailand, extending to various fields such as agricultural and natural resource management, economic and social management, historical and cultural preservation, and so on. DSS generally refers to a support system embedded into a computer system for providing intellectual resources with the appropriate numerical model necessary for decision making in production activities. Agricultural and natural resources have been the foundation of social and economic development in Thailand since the country's first national plan in the1960s. Decision making to maintain agricultural productivity as well as to protect natural resources requires well-integrated data sets. The Thailand Research Fund(TRF) established a DSS research and development network (TRF-DSS) in 2002 to help various research teams in Thailand develop DSS tools and components for addressing agricultural and natural resource management issues. Using a "systems"approach, the DSS framework allows researchers and users to identify and integrate key components as well as to define databases and model-base management systems. This paper focuses on the TRF-DSS research and development network, which consists of 12 universities, two line agencies in Thailand, and a line agency in Cambodia. During 2002–10, a total of 59 research projects were granted a budget allocation of 140.1 million baht, and a budget of 15.4 million baht was allocated to support activities of the network. In addition, 10 projects were funded to carry out post-project activities, with a total budget of 1.5 million baht. More than 20 DSS tools were developed and implemented by various users, ranging from policy makers to provincial and local government agencies engaged in short- and long-term planning and management. Most DSS tools were designed to allow the integration of biophysical and socioeconomic data as well as the decision support modules for alternatives evaluation and analysis. These approaches support the choices of dynamic simulation models as well as multi-criteria analyses for modelbase software development. They also allow users to evaluate various alternatives in agricultural and natural resource management. Networking is a powerful platform for DSS research and development and maybe applied to other types of research and development agenda in Thailand, such as area study projects. DSS tools contribute to an understanding of sustainability of production systems against a background of climate change, poverty reduction, and food security.