Ricerca CERCA

Decision support in urban transformation processes: the SUITE project



External reference persons Elena Todella


Description The thesis proposal is part of a two-year research project funded by the DIST Department Call, called SUITE (Decision Support in the Urban Context in the Digital Age: Interactions and Uncertainties).
The overall objective of the SUITE research is to explore the relevance of structuring methods and decision support in the digital age. The first research question (RQ1) is: is the concept of Problem Structuring Methods (PSMs) and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) still relevant in a world accelerated by technology and digital innovation? This means both reflecting on how 'decision' can be defined in an age of digital automata; and what 'deciding' means with respect to urban transformations and heritage valorisation processes, and how this act would have a specificity that is not transferable to a machine or automatic procedure, nor even to a system articulated according to the principles of machine-learning and artificial intelligence.
The research takes a firm and justified stance on its importance: structuring and decision support methods are still significant, but contextual conditions, in particular the digital revolution, may have changed the way they are to be used and the purpose for which they are applied, and this is exactly what we want to focus on.
In order to support the relevance of these methods, the research starts from an innovative multi-methodological approach recently introduced in the literature (Lami and Todella, 2023) that combines a PSM and an MCDA to address the problem of the composition of facts and values (Latour, 2004) in the decision-making process of urban and territorial policies. The proposed multi-methodology for understanding all these aspects together in a single cycle combines the Strategic Choice Approach (SCA, Friend and Hickling, 1987, 2005) with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP, Saaty 1980) or the Analytic Network Process (ANP, Saaty, 2005), a combination of methods hitherto absent in the literature. This approach makes use of a new software, developed by Isabella Lami and DEM Future srl, called MuVAM: Multi-Values Appraisal Methodology (https://demfuture.com/progetto/muvam/).
In order to answer the first research question highlighted above (RQ1), the research activity aims to bring about a theoretical advancement of the multi-methodology described above with respect to the concept of uncertainty, which is central to SCA, in which three different types of uncertainty are identified (Friend & Hickling, 2005): Uncertainties about the working Environment (UE); Uncertainties about guiding Values (UV); Uncertainties about Related decisions (UR).
This gives rise to two research sub-questions: i) are the three categories of uncertainty introduced by Friend and Hickling still relevant (RQ2)? ii) how can uncertainties be structured in such a way as to benefit (for their resolution) from the potential of using software and data analysis (RQ3)?
Students interested in this research topic will, depending on the progress of the project, be able to contribute to answering the research questions in three ways:
- with research of a mainly theoretical and methodological nature, through the study of scientific literature and the analysis of national and international cases of urban transformation;
- with a more applied research, through the validation of the proposed theoretical advances on case studies of real urban transformations. Where possible, these validations will take place through workshops with decision-makers and key actors involved in the decision-making process;
- with research of a theoretical and applied nature.

Deadline 14/07/2024      PROPONI LA TUA CANDIDATURA

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