There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot

Archie J Crofton
Wednesday, 15th January 2014
There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot

It is fair to say, that if your work fails there is no use for it. This threat is never truer than for instrument developers who face the daily risk of entertaining a different imagination to that of instrument users. Requirements engineering is a means of determining user expectations for a new instrument and can be useful in supporting a product’s development and design process. However, the act of joining new ideas with practical relevance is no mean feat.

An optimal starting point for new developments would be in response to a practical need for a new instrument. And indeed, this is the situation ecosystem scientists and the OPERAs project face when attempting to ‘operationalise’ (make operational or put into practice) the ecosystem service concept.

Even when faced with clear and apparent needs for an instrument it is necessary that you tease out the details. This must be done to identify the whole range of practical needs, demands and applications. A potential way to achieve this, is by performing a so-called “demand analysis” which seeks to identify the scope of existing needs, to prioritise aspects of these and to prove the relevance of your ideas and concept, before you can commence with the real work.

A Wishlist - What a Demand Analysis actually is!

Of course decision support tools, instruments or systems providing ecosystem service information should help and support end users in their decision-making. But before this can occur, requirements have to be defined and fulfilled. Depending on instrument type there are a large set of parameters that should be clarified e.g. What communication functions does it have? What are the applications? Who are the users? Which information is necessary - on which scale? How should information look like to ensure that it is understandable and useable?

To answer this blur of questions OPERAs have set up a general demand analysis survey in the planning process context to effectively gather information from practice. We have designed a questionnaire for other decision support tool developers. This allows developers to itemise by e.g. project, groups or instruments by using a code.

So please let us know your needs and demands for the communication and visualisation of ecosystem service information and characterise your practical experience. Or just use this survey for your development tasks of decision support tools on ecosystem services.

Fill in the survey on: www.ecosystemservices.ch/demands

Contact information:
Thomas M. Klein
thomas.klein@nsl.ethz.ch