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Enhancing ArcGIS Decision Making Capabilities Using an Intelligent Multicriteria Decision Analysis Toolbox
Spatial decision making problems are multi-facetted challenges. Not only they often involve numerous technical requirements, but may also contain economic, social, environmental and political dimensions that may have conflicting values. Solutions for these problems involve highly complex spatial data analysis processes and frequently require advanced means to address physical suitability conditions while considering the multiple socio-economic variables. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Multicriteria Decision Making (MCDM) techniques are the most common tools employed to solve these problems, each of these tools has its own shortcoming and could not be used alone to reach an optimum solution. The need for combining the strengths of these techniques has prompted researchers to seek integration of GIS and MCDM. Most GIS software packages do not support MCDM such as ArcGIS ® which is a great tool for handling spatial analysis. However, it has limited capabilities of handling multicriteria decision problems. In the same time, decision makers need intelligent guidance for selecting a suitable MCDM technique for their decision situation because different MCDM techniques suit different kinds of decision situation. In this study, an intelligent ArcGIS extension (MCDM Analyst) is developed to enhance ArcGIS decision making capabilities and to help the GIS analysts to select and implement the suitable MCDM techniques for their problems. The component object model (COM) technology is used in designing and integrating this extension with ArcGIS to achieve software interoperability. A typical case study is presented to demonstrate the application of this extension.
Keywords: GIS, ArcGIS, MCDM, COM, Spatial Decision Making
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