User experiences of using a spatial analysis tool in collaborative GIS for maritime spatial planning

Transaction in GIS, volume 25, Issue 4


Maritime spatial planning (MSP) is a decision-making process for managing human activities at sea. Stakeholder participation is critical to MSP processes. Spatial decision support systems (SDSSs) can be effective tools for analyzing problems in MSP, for example, the impact of human activities on marine ecosystems. However, despite the fact that multiple SDSSs have been developed for MSP, they are rarely used in real-world MSP processes. We aim to provide insight into stakeholders' understanding and perception of the appropriateness and completeness of SDSSs in an MSP stakeholder meeting. We studied whether SDSSs can benefit from being integrated into CGIS to support alternative methods for problem exploration and solving in groups. The results show that most, but not all, stakeholders understood well or fairly well what the tool does and how to use it, and agreed that the tool was appropriate and had the necessary requirements for problem solving. The results also show that problem exploration and solving with an SDSS in groups can benefit from the tool being integrated into a CGIS. Further research is needed to find effective solutions to overcome stakeholders' challenges in using GIS, and to develop flexible solutions that enable alternative problem-solving methods.

Sea Basin(s): 
August 2021
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How can SDSSs adapt to collaborative settings while remaining useful in the context of MSP?
  • How do stakeholders perceive SDSSs for collaborative MSP?
  • What are the benefits of combining SDSS and CGIS?

Implementation Context:

Stakeholder involvement at a state and transboundary level throughout the MSP process is a requirement in the MSP Directive to ensure the legitimacy of decisions.

Aspects / Objectives:

This study aims to provide insights on a stakeholder’s perception regarding spatial decision support systems (SDSSs) and how these tools are appropriated.


The authors observed the use of a same-time, same-location system, that was developed by integrating an SDSS for ecosystem analysis with a CGIS, and then used in a real-world collaborative MSP planning session.

Main Outputs / Results:

This article contributes to improving knowledge about the use of spatial analysis in decision-making processes in the context of MSP.


This study can be transferable to any decision-making process intending to use SDSSs.

Responsible Entity:

Finnish Geospatial Research Institute, Masala, Finland

Costs / Funding Source:

Use of geospatial computing resources provided by CSC and the Open Geospatial Information Infrastructure for Research (oGIIR, urn:nbn:fi:research-infras-2016072513) funded by the Academy of Finland.

Contact person:

Christian Koski: