On the SDS Knowledge Portal you can access the body of knowledge for the field of spatial decision support (SDS) and a collection of SDS resources.

1. Basic layout of the SDS Knowledge Portal

When you are on the SDS Knowledge Portal, you will see 5 main areas where you can interact with the Portal:

  • Navigation menus on top with dropdown menu items for various information components, including Concepts (concepts relevant for SDS), Resources (SDS resources including planning and decision making workflows, methods and techniques, tools and models, data models, data sources, case studies, literature and related websites), plus information about this portal, about the SDS Consortium, contact, etc.
  • An ontology hierarchy bar on the right, with an expandable and retractable display area for displaying the SDS ontology hierarchy. All the SDS related concepts and resource information on the Portal are organized by a set of ontologies. You can access the information by browsing the ontology hierarchy.
  • A main content display area in the left and middle of the screen, for displaying the description of a concept or a resource item that you have selected to view. Each concept is defined by an English term, synonyms, abbreviation or acronym if any, and a description in English. It is further defined by a set of attributes and though its relations to some other concepts. The concept’s various attributes and relations are also displayed in a graph format. You reposition the nodes in the graph by dragging them to arrange the graph to your liking. The nodes in this graph are also clickable (see Graphical Browsing blow).
  • You can also follow the links in the content display to go to a different content display page.
  • A general text search field for searching the content on the Portal, to the upper right corner of the screen.

2. Content organization on the SDS Knowledge Portal

The content of the information on the SDS Knowledge Portal is organized into the following components, which are the main SDS ontology branches in the ontology hierarchy:

Component Content
Introduction Definition of spatial decision support, spatial decision support systems, related fields of study, basic concepts related to spatial planning and decision making
Spatial decision problem types Planning and spatial decision problem types and parameters
Decision context The institutional, legal, social, cultural, and geographic contexts of a planning/decision problem, as well the relevant application domain and knowledge domain.
Spatial decision process Knowledge about planning/spatial decision processes: typical workflows, major phases and sub steps during a workflow.
Methods and techniques Methods and techniques commonly used for different steps during a planning/decision making process.
Technology Technology available for SDS, including equipment and software, especially the spatial decision support systems and tools. Related information on information systems, and general SDSS functionalities
Domain data and knowledge Data, data topics, data sources, data models, and domain knowledge models
People and participation Participatory and collaborative dimensions of the planning/decision making process, and decision process participant roles
Resources All the SDS resources found under the above-mentioned components (workflows, SDS tools and models, data models, data sources), plus related literature, case studies, related websites, as well as organizations and people referred to elsewhere in the ontologies

You can browse the content of these components, as explained below. As mentioned above, some of the SDS resource-related information can also be accessed through the navigation menus in the upper part of the screen.

3. Browsing and Searching on the SDS Knowledge Portal

You can browse the content on the portal in the following ways:

  • Browsing the ontology hierarchy. When you click on the Ontology Hierarchy bar, it will extend a display area to display the ontology hierarchy (clicking on the Ontology Hierarchy bar again will retract this display area). Click on the plus sign next to a category to expand it to see its sub categories, the minus sign to collapse the category sub-tree. You can also click on “Expand All” or “Collapse All” to expand or collapse the entire ontology hierarchy. Click the concept itself to see its definition in the main content display area. Each concept is defined by an English term, synonyms, abbreviation or acronym if any, and a description in English. It is further defined by a set of attributes and though its relations to some other concepts. For example, a method concept (e.g. multi-criteria decision analysis) may relate to a decision process phase or step (e.g. commonly used during the choice phase of the planning/decision process), and may be related to one or more tools (e.g. implemented by EMDS). Notice that the definition of the relations (e.g. “Implemented by”) will be displayed as well if you mouse over it.
    Although the concepts seem to be organized in a hierarchical way in the Ontology Hierarchy, they are in fact organized in a graph format. See Graphical Browsing below.
  • Browsing by following the links in a concept page. If a concept is defined by its relations to another concept, you can click on text string of the related concept and jump to the content display for this related concept. To go back to the previous page, click on your browser's Back button.
  • Graphical browsing in a concept page. As mentioned above, besides textual description, the definition of a concept including its attributes and relations to other concepts is also captured in a graph in the concept page. This graph is in fact a fragment of the entire ontology graph. You can use the nodes in this graph to navigate to other concepts in the ontology by clicking on a node of your interest. When you do, you will jump to the content display for the concept whose node you just clicked.
  • Alphabetical browsing. You can browse the concepts alphabetically by clicking on Concept in the navigation menus area, which brings up the list of SDS related concepts in alphabetical order. You can also browse SDS resources (such as tools and models, data sources, case studies) alphabetically by clicking on the corresponding Navigation menu items, which will display the corresponding resource items alphabetically.

Currently, SDS tools and models, data sources, case studies and related websites can be searched through a set of criteria. In other words, you can search for relevant resource items by specifying the values for these criteria. Or, to phrase it differently, you can filter out irrelevant resource times by a set of filters (criteria). Each criterion has a drop down value list that will be displayed if you mouse over the criterion. You can then select one or more values of this criterion. As you do this, the Portal dynamically filter out irrelevant resource items and present you with a shorter list of resource items. Each time you select a criterion value, this value will be displayed in the search filter list. You can also remove a filter from the filter list to relax the search criteria. You will then get more resource items in the search results list.

You can click on an resource item in the search results list to view the content page for that resource item.

There is also a concept search field at the top right corner of the Portal screen. You can type in the search field the term for a concept that you are looking for, or a synonym or the acronym for this concept, the Portal will search the SDS ontologies and present the entry for this concept, together with any concepts that are related to this concept in some way. Currently the concept search is limited to the anything related to tools, case studies, data sources and related websites, but will be expanded to cover all the areas of the SDS ontologies.

4. Contact us with your questions and feedback

We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions, and hope that you will help us improve this Portal both in its content and in its usability. There are two ways to email your feedback to us:

  • Click on the navigation menu item Feedback to send us an email.
  • For inquiries about the SDS Portal project or the SDS Consortium, please contact:
    Naicong Li, Ph.D.

We will try to address your issues within the limitations of our resources.
Thank you for using the SDS Knowledge Portal, and we hope you find it helpful.

How to Cite Us

Please cite this Portal using the information in the following example format:
University of Redlands and the SDS Consortium. (2009). <portal_section_title>. In Spatial Decision Support Knowledge Portal. Retrieved <month> <day> <year>, from

For example:
University of Redlands and the SDS Consortium. (2009). "Spatial decision support". In Spatial Decision Support Knowledge Portal. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from

IntroductionPlanning/Decision ContextPlanning And Spatial Decision ProcessSpatial Planning And Decision Problem TypesMethods And Techniques
methods and techniques; methodology
TechnologyData And Domain KnowledgePeople And ParticipationResources