Frequently Asked Questions


What does the Facilitator software do?

The facilitator software helps individuals and groups of people in making decisions.
A couple of the fascinating aspects of this software are the way in which it channels you toward working out what are the real issues at hand and the way in which is brings groups of people into a common problem mind-share.

The facilitator software uses decision rules, a hierarchical system for ranking criteria, score functions and linear programming to identify a preferred management option consistent with the ranking of the decision criteria. Assigning an importance order to the decision criteria overcomes in part the need to assign individual weights. The matrix framework of management options and decision criteria is generic and open, encouraging participation by all stakeholders and can accomodate measured data, simulation model results and expert opinions in the decision making process. The results can be viewed in one of two formats; bar and polar. Results in the bar format are displayed as horizontal bars with best and worst composite scores; the length of the bars representing the sensitivity of the resource management option to the individual ordering of the criteria. The polar format highlights, and groups, differences between best and worst composite scores. "What if" scenarios can be generated by reordering the decision criteria, selecting a different score function or by including additional options and criteria. The entire process can be exported to HTML allowing scenarios to be viewed from anywhere on the web.

back to top

About the Facilitator software

This web application is based on the desktop version of the Facilitator. The facilitator software is in beta. It is also in the research and development phase. However, that being said, it is in a very usable form and is feature rich.
Initially, the facilitator software was written to run on any platform which supports the Java runtime environment. This verison of the facilitator requires the Flash plugin to run and it was built using Adobe Flex techlology.

Who developed the Facilitator software?

The software is based on research from:

Initially, the software was designed and built by:

The web-based version of the Facilitator was built by:

Funding sources for the software include:

back to top

What license is the Facilitator available under?

The Facilitator is available under the Mozilla Public License 1.1, which is an approved OSI (Open Source Initiative) license.

back to top

Why is the software called Facilitator?

One of the original intents in writing the software was to help facilitate group decision making and problem solving in natural resource management.
A requirement in the group decision making process was to appoint or provide a facilitator. Somehow this just ended up sticking.

back to top

Where can I get help?

Please send us an email with your question using our contact form.

back to top

What are some publications describing the theory behind the multiobjective approach used in the WebFacilitator?

Theoretical Background

Wymore, A.W., 1988. Structuring System Design Decisions. Proceedings of International Conference on Systems Science and Engineering (ICSSE ‘88),, July 25 – 28, 1988, Beijing, China. pp. 704-709.

Yakowitz, D.S., L.J. Lane, and F. Szidarovsky, 1993. Multi-attribute decision making: dominance with respect to an importance order of attributes. Applied Mathematics andComputation, 54:167 – 181.

Imam, B., 1994. Nonlinear Uncertainty Analysis of Multiple Criteria Natural Resource Decision Support Systems. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

Yakowitz, D.S. and M. Weltz, 1998. An algorithm for computing multiple attribute additive value measurement ranges under hierarchy of the criteria: application to farm or rangeland management decisions, in Multicriteria Analysis of Land-Use Management, E. Beinat and P. Nijkamp, eds., Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston.

back to top

Where has the Facilitator been used?


Robinson, J. and Rose, K. 1997. Stakeholder preferences for groundwater management in the Cattle Creek Catchment. Department of Natural Resources, Report 29110 RSC: 81pp.

Robinson, J., Lawrence, P.A., Shaw, R.J., Cogle, L., Rose, K. and Lait, R. 1999. Development and outcomes from a multiple objective decision support system for the Cattle Creek Catchment (Mareeba-Dimbulah Irrigation Area), Department of Natural Resources, Report 36023: 46pp.

Robinson, Jacqueline Jefferson. 1999. Using a multiple criteria decision support system to support natural resource management decision-making for ecologically sustainable development, University of Queensland, Ph.D. Thesis.

Lawrence, P.A., R.J. Shaw, L.J. Lane, and R. Eisner. 2000. Participatory multiple objective decision making processes: Emerging approaches with new challenges. p. 1-11 In Marshall Flug et al.(ed) Proc. Watershed Management and Operations Management 2000, Fort Collins, CO. 20-24 June 2000. ASCE, New York.

Lawrence, P.A., R. Shaw, L. Lane, and R. Eisner, 2000. Participatory multiple objective decision making processes: Emerging approaches with new challenges. Proceedings of the American Society for Civil Engineering (ASCE): Watershed Management Symposium, 20 – 24 June, 2000, Ft. Collins, CO USA.

Lawrence, P.A., J. Robinson, and R. Eisner. 2001. A decision environment: Going beyond a decision framework to improve the effectiveness of decision making in natural resource management. p. 1613-1618. In Ghassemi F. et al. (ed.) Int. Congr. Modeling and Simulation (MODSIM 2001), Canberra, ACT, Australia. 10-13 Dec. 2001. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, Perth.

Lawrence, P.A., J. LeGrand, and I. Jeffreys, 2002. Integrating spatial models and decision support systems for improved catchment planning. Proceedings of the River Symposium 2002, The Scarcity of Water, 3 – 6 September, 2002, Brisbane, Australia.

Lawrence, P.A., and R.J. Shaw. 2002. A framework for evaluating options for improved irrigation management. pp 1-15. In Proc. Int. Conf. on Multiple Objective Decision Support Systems for Land, Water and Environmental Management (MODSS'99), 2nd, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. 1-6 July 1999. Report QNRM02143. Queensland Dep. of Natural Resources, QLD, Australia.


Raizada, A., Dogra, P., and Dhyani, B.L. 2008. Assessment of a multi-objective decision support system generated land use plan on forest fodder dependency in a Himalayan watershed. Environmental Modelling & Software, 23(9): 1171-1181.


Baldyga, T. J., Miller, S. N., Driese, K. L., & Maina Gichaba, C. (2007). Land cover change assessment within Kenya’s Mau forest region using remotely sensed data. African Journal of Ecology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2007.00806.x.

Baldyga, Tracy J. 2008. Spatially explicit multiple objective decision support for rural watersheds.Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wyoming, 175 pages.


Cohen, I.S., Rodriguez, H.M., Heilman, P., Mann, R.S. 2005. Planning for increasing irrigation efficiency in Mexico. American Water Resources Association Summer Specialty Conference, Institutions for Sustainable Watershed Management: Reconciling Physical and Management Ecology in the Asia-Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, June 27 - 29, 2005.

Heilman, P., Stone, J.J., Sanchez-Cohen, I., Rodriquez, H., Mann, R. 2006. Working smarter: Research and decision support systems in Mexican agriculture. Proc. ARS/INIFAP Binational Sym. on Modeling and Remote Sensing in Agriculture, June 2-6, 2003, Aquascalientes, Mexico.

Sánchez Cohen I., H. Macías Rodríguez, P. Heilman, G. González C., S. Mendoza M., M. Inzunza I. y J. Estrada A. 2006. Planeación multiobjetivo en los distritos de riego de México. Aplicación de un sistema de auxilio para la toma de decisiones. Ingeniería Hidráulica en México, vol. XXI, núm. 3, pp. 101 – 111.

United States

Lane, L.J., J.C. Ascough, and T. Hakonson, 1991. Multiobjective Decision Theory – Decision Support Systems With Embedded Simulation Models. Irrigation and Drainage Proceedings 1991, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Yakowitz, D.S., L.J. Lane, J.J. Stone, P. Heilman, and R.K. Reddy, 1992. A Decision Support System for Water Quality Modeling. Water Resources Planning and Management Proceedings of the Water Resources Sessions/Water Forum ‘92, EE, HY, IR, WR Div/ASCE, Baltimore, Maryland, pp. 188-193.

Yakowitz, D.S., J.J. Stone, L.J. Lane, P. Heilman, J. Masterson, and B. Abolt, 1993. A Decision Support System for Evaluating the Effects of Alternative Farm Management Practices on Water Quality and Economics. Water Science and Technology, 28(3-5):47-54.

Heilman, P., 1995. A Decision Support System for Selecting Economic Incentives to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution From Agricultural Lands. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

Paige, G.B., J.J. Stone, L.J. Lane, D.S. Yakowitz, and T.E. Hakonson, 1996. Evaluation of a Prototype Decision Support System for Selecting Trench Cap Designs. Journal of Environmental Quality, 25:127-135.

Paige, G.B., J.J. Stone, L.J. Lane, and T.E. Hakonson. 1996.  Calibration and testing of simulation models for evaluation of trench cap designsJournal of Environmental Quality, 25:136-144.

Lawrence, P.A. 1996. The role of data sources and simulation model complexity in using a prototype decision support system. Ph.D. dissertation, School of Renewable Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson: 332pp.

Heilman, P., D.S. Yakowitz, and L.J. Lane, 1997. Targeting Farms to Improve Water Quality. Applied Mathematics and Computation, 83:173-194.

Lawrence, PA., J.J. Stone, P. Heilman, and L.J. Lane, 1997. Using measured data and expert opinion in a Multiple Objective Decision Support System for semiarid rangelands. Transactions of the ASAE, 40(6):1589 – 1597.

Heilman, P., G. Davis, P. Lawrence, J.L. Hatfield, and J. Huddleston, 2002. The Facilitator- An open source effort to support multiobjective decision making. Proceedings of the 1st Biennial Meeting of the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society. 3:253-258.

Heilman, P., J.L. Hatfield, M. Adkins, J. Porter, and R. Kurth, 2004. Field scale multiobjective decision making: A case study from western Iowa. Journal of theAmerican Water Resources Association, 40(2):333 – 345.

Levy, J.K. and Gopalakrishnan, C. 2009. Multicriteria Analysis for Disaster Risk Reduction in Virginia, USA: A Policy-Focused Approach to Oil and Gas Drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. Natural Resources Policy Research, 1(3): 213-228.

Vogl, Adrian L. 2011.A systems approach to modeling and impact assessment in an urbanizing watershed. Ph.D. Dissertation, Texas State University - San Marcos, 264 Pages.

Heilman, P., Malone, R.W., Ma, L., Hatfield, J., Ahuja, L., Boyle, K., Kanwar, R. 2012. Extending results from agricultural fields with intensively monitored data to surrounding areas for water quality management. Agricultural Systems. 106:59-71.

Schwilch, G., Bachmann, F., and de Graaff, J. 2012. Decision support for selecting SLM technologies with stakeholders. Applied Geography 34:86-98


Schwilch, G., Bachmann, F., and Liniger, H.P. 2009. Appraising and selecting conservation measures to mitigate desertification and land degradation based on stakeholder participation and global best practices. Land Degrad. Develop. 20: 308–326.

Schwilch G, Bachmann F, Liniger HP. 2008. Guidelines for WB3 Part III: StakeholderWorkshop 2 – Selection and Decision on Prevention and Mitigation Strategies to be Implemented. DESIRE Report No 17, Series Manuals and Training Guides. Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Bern.

G. Schwilch, F. Bachmann, J. de Graaff, Decision support for selecting SLM technologies with stakeholders, Applied Geography, Volume 34, May 2012, Pages 86-98, ISSN 0143-6228, ( Keywords: Sustainable Land Management (SLM); Decision support; Stakeholder participation

Where has the Facilitator been mentioned on the web?

Queensland govt readies open source analytics

back to top