Sustainable Infrastructure Project Planning: Progress in Contemporary Decision Support Tools

Sustainable Infrastructure Project Planning: Progress in Contemporary Decision Support Tools

Omar Mohd Faizal (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Bambang Trigunarsyah (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Johnny Wong (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-022-7.ch018
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Most infrastructure project developments are complex in nature, particularly in the planning phase. During this stage, many vague alternatives are tabled - from the strategic to operational level. Human judgement and decision making are characterised by biases, errors and the use of heuristics. These factors are intangible and hard to measure because they are subjective and qualitative in nature. The problem with human judgement becomes more complex when a group of people are involved. The variety of different stakeholders may cause conflict due to differences in personal judgements. Hence, the available alternatives increase the complexities of the decision making process. Therefore, it is desirable to find ways of enhancing the efficiency of decision making to avoid misunderstandings and conflict within organisations. As a result, numerous attempts have been made to solve problems in this area by leveraging technologies such as decision support systems. However, most construction project management decision support systems only concentrate on model development and neglect fundamentals of computing such as requirement engineering, data communication, data management and human centred computing. Thus, decision support systems are complicated and are less efficient in supporting the decision making of project team members. It is desirable for decision support systems to be simpler, to provide a better collaborative platform, to allow for efficient data manipulation, and to adequately reflect user needs. In this chapter, a framework for a more desirable decision support system environment is presented. Some key issues related to decision support system implementation are also described.
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Infrastructure Project Planning

Typically, infrastructure project planning is based on a top-down approach ranging from strategic to operational planning (Niekerk & Voogd, 1999). The term ‘strategic’ incorporates issues relating to long term planning, while ‘operational’ focuses on how to get tasks done. An early framework which modelled infrastructure planning around a few stages and classifications (see Figure 1) was proposed by Grigg (1988).

Figure 1.

Stages and classification of infrastructure planning (Grigg, 1988)


Based on the above model, ‘policy planning’ refers to the overall policies that will govern the entire program or approach. An example would be the study of the need to subsidize infrastructure to improve the chance of economic development. Secondly, ‘program planning’ refers to activities that have to be undertaken for each service category, such as transportation, roads, water, or waste water management. Program planning may include capital and operating components. Meanwhile, ‘master planning’ specifies where and when facilities should be developed. Next, ‘action planning’ enables the action agency to decide how to solve problems which may arise. Finally, the ‘design stage’ may sit between the planning and construction phases. The determination of stakeholders and project team will depend on program planning. The above description indicates that every stage in infrastructure planning involves the active participation of decision makers. Thus, intuitive and effective human judgement will definitely affect project performance.

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