Information for urban decisions: some potential systems
Pfeffer, Gerald Stephen
Britton, Earle V.
Master of Architecture
Numerous factors, including increasing complexity, judicial supervision and heightened public awareness of the issues, contribute to pressures placed on local government officials for higher quality and greater responsiveness in the making of decisions which affect community growth and change. Recent improvements in information technology could offer some prospects for improved delivery of data needed to make decisions. However, political problems in determining information needs and obtaining data from local sources tend to reduce the effectiveness of potential systems. Equally difficult are technical considerations which govern information processing once data becomes available. Adequate techniques exist for statistical analysis and graphic communication of successfully processed data, but at present, these systems can only be used by those willing to learn the detailed technical requirements of each program. Several systems are proposed to bridge this gap for decision makers in such diverse fields as social program evaluation, school facility management, health care delivery and land use planning. A local data collection agency, similar to the U. S. Census Bureau, is proposed to supply baseline and present-state data to such information systems. However, prospects for development and implementation of such systems are clouded by increasing political concern for individual privacy, conflicting opinions among experts about the value of computerized information systems, and the prospects for unforeseen societal change brought about by the development of a technocracy in control of these systems. Finally, a warning is issued to those who would entirely substitute the quantitative data available from computerized information systems for the empathetic, qualitative decision-making of traditional local government.