The explosion of information technologies in the last decade has contributed to a fundamental shift in the way people communicate. It is now possible for stakeholders to interact, share information, and collaborate with each other through the application of a diverse number of tools and platforms. Technology can be integrated into an environmental collaboration and conflict resolution process to assist groups in sharing information, enhancing facilitation, and increasing social interaction.

The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution is partnering with the U.S. Department of the Interior to develop and use robust geospatial technology to improve agency decision making and to aid collaborative decision making and public engagement regarding the use of the nation's land, water, and coastal resources. Agency officials and managers presently have access to a variety of geospatial data from several different sources but lack tools to integrate, coordinate, and display this data in a fashion that is convenient and easily accessible for a broad range of users.

As a first step in meeting this need, the U.S. Institute, through the Udall Foundation, has contracted for development of a web-based working prototype that will provide landscape-scale information about DOI priority initiatives and inform management policies and decisions about land use, climate change adaptation, outdoor recreation, and other resource management issues. The landscape decision tool will utilize DOI and other data resources and will aid resource managers to find and utilize information to make better day-to-day operational decisions. Applications and information from the tool will be openly shared with the general public. These applications could provide a range of opportunities, including the ability to stay connected with a collaborative team, learning underlying science and substantive content, sharing information with participating organizations, visualizing and testing the aesthetics and impacts of options, facilitating decision making, gathering and sharing data to inform the work of a collaborative effort, collecting public comment, and making information and knowledge accessible to the public. The U.S. Institute and DOI anticipate that this project will lead to opportunities for collaboration with other federal agencies, other governments, nongovernmental organizations, and the public regarding common interests in land and natural resources management.

U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution
Program Lead for the U.S. Department of the Interior Geospatial Tool Collaborative

Karen Siderelis is the Director of Collaboration Technology at the U.S. Institute, and heads the U.S. Institute's leadership initiative for applications of new technologies that enhance environmental collaboration and conflict resolution processes. Prior to her work at the U.S. Institute, she held the position of Geospatial Information Officer (GIO) for the U.S. Department of the Interior. In that role, she provided leadership to advance the National Spatial Data Infrastructure through DOI's national and international responsibilities associated with the Federal Geographic Data Committee and other collaborative activities. She also ensured the coordination and advancement of GIS efforts across all nine DOI bureaus. Karen has served as Vice Chair of the Mapping Science Committee of the National Academy of Sciences and President of the National States Geographic Information Council. She holds master's and bachelor's degrees from the University of Georgia.

Karen C. Siderelis, Director of Collaboration Technology
U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution
(202) 540-1040