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					 Online short course:   Decision Support Systems in River Basin Management
Regular online short course for 12 weeks (equivalent to 3 weeks full-time study)
Period: 15 September – 15 December, any year


River Basin Management (RBM) presents a very
complex decision making context. It is
characterised with diverse interactions among the
natural - physical system, the socioeconomic
system that relies upon the water resources of a
given river basin and the administrative-
institutional system responsible for river basin
planning and management. These complex
interactions require full understanding of the
various systems’ components and translation of
their interactions into structured formulations as
decision making problems. Such formulations
lead towards the development of decision support
tools and systems that can aid decision makers
and various stakeholders involved in river basin
management in their decision making processes.

The process of designing and developing decision support systems (DSSs) for RBM requires competences
that can roughly be classified in two categories. The first category of competences is in proper formulation
of decision making problems as well as understanding of the appropriate usage of various tools and
techniques such as simulation, optimisation and multi-criteria analyses. The second category of
competencies are required for the actual DSS development, which is usually a computer-based system that
integrates data, models and decision support techniques into a decision support environment. This
environment is equipped with intuitive user interfaces that meet the diverse knowledge needs of various
stakeholders involved in RBM.

This online short course is primarily focused on developing competences that belong to the first category.
Following this course will help answering questions such as: What are the challenges of integrated RBM?
Which guiding principles (sustainability, equity) form the basis for successful RBM? How can different
management options be linked to the multiple river basin functions? How can we utilise systems analysis
approaches to formulate structured decision making problem descriptions using alternatives and
objectives? What is the role and applicability of various tools and techniques for solving such decision
making problems (simulation, optimisation, multi-criteria analyses)? The course will also give an overview
of a generic structure of computer-based decision support systems in river basin management as well as
an overview of different kinds of DSSs required at different decision-making level (operational
management, planning and design, policy formulation).


After the online short course participants who successfully passed the assessments will be able to:
     • Identify the key challenges in River Basin Management and understand the need for decision
         support tools
     • Translate RBM problems into structured decision making problems using systems analysis
         approaches through formulation of alternatives and objectives
     • Identify the role and applicability of modelling simulation for the purposes of decision support
     • Set-up and execute moderately complex river basin simulation models
     • Identify the role and applicability of various optimisation techniques for the purposes of decision
     • Formulate several typical water resources problems as optimisation problems and solve them
         using optimisation software packages
     • Identify the role and applicability of Multi Criteria Analyses (MCA) techniques for the purposes of
         decision support
    •   Formulate given river basin management problem as an MCA problem and analyse it using
        specialized software
    •   Understand the generic structure of a computer-based DSSs used in RBM and distinguish different
        types of DSSs


The course is designed for young and mid-level professionals who are involved in decision making
processes in river basins at different levels, or those who are developing modelling and information
systems support for managing water resources in river basins. Participants who want to develop
competencies in these fields can also apply for the course.


The total study load is 140 hours distributed over 12 weeks (average study load of about 12 hours per
week) and is equivalent to full-time study of 3 weeks.

The content covered in the course is:
 Subjects                     Syllabus
 1 River Basin Management       Introduction to the concept of RBM; Guiding principles in RBM; relations
                                between the natural, socioeconomic and administrative systems; functions
                                and users; Challenges: integration across functions, upstream-downstream
                                integration, trade-offs; Nature of RBM complexity requiring decision support
 2 Decision support:            Introduction to decision making processes; Formulation of objectives and
 structuring decision making    alternatives; Hierarchical structuring of objectives; Formulation of alternatives
 problems and solution          in terms of control (decision) variables; Introduction to simulation,
 techniques                     optimisation and multi-criteria analyses as techniques used in decision
 3 Modelling simulations as Modelling paradigms: physically-based modelling, data-driven modelling-
 tools for decision support in agent-based modelling; Types of modelling used for RBM: river basin
 RBM                           modelling; catchment modelling; river and flood Modelling; water quality and
                               ecological modelling; socioeconomic modelling; Special focus on River Basin
                               Modelling; Computer exercises with River Basin Modelling Software
 4 Optimisation techniques   Introduction to optimisation; Classical optimisation (calculus-based); Single-
 for decision support in RBM objective and multi-objective optimisation; Linear Programming; Dynamic
                             Programming; Formulation of typical water resources problems as
                             optimisation problems; Exercises with optimisation software packages
 5 Multi-Criteria Analyses      The need for MCA; Definition of MCA problems; Solution methods –
 (MCA) techniques and their     compensatory and non-compensatory; Decision matrix and its use; Multiple
 role in decision support for   Attributes Decision Methods (MADM); Computer exercises with DSS
 RBM                            software that implements MCA
 6. Structure and types of      Introduction to DSS as computer-based tools; Structure of a generic DSS;
 DSSs for RBM                   Types of DSSs; Examples of developed DSSs and case studies


The online course fee is 550 Euro, which includes access to the Digital Learning Environment and its
training materials and training support.


Education: Prerequisites for the course are a masters or bachelors degree in engineering or science with
some knowledge in basic hydraulics and basic hydrology. Participants are also expected to have some
professional experience in the water sector. Experience in water resources modelling or water resources
management can be an added advantage but it is not a prerequisite.
ICT: Participants must have access to a present day PC with Windows (XP/2000/98) with a Pentium 266
MHz processor, 64 MB RAM and Hi-Colour (16 bit or better) video card. Software requirements are:
Microsoft Office (2000/97), Windows Media Player, Mozilla Firefox with Adobe Flash player, Acrobat
Reader, etc. Participants should have access to a high speed Internet connection (e.g. 512 kilobits per


For more information about the contents and the structure of the course, please contact Andreja Jonoski

For registration questions please contact .