DSS News
                       by D. J. Power
             September 23, 2001 -- Vol. 2, No. 20
         A Bi-Weekly Publication of DSSResources.COM

   Check the Document-Driven DSS page at DSSResources.COM


* DSS Wisdom
* Ask Dan! - Can DSS and Decision Support technologies help reduce the 
threat of terrorism?
* What's New at DSSResources.COM
* DSS News Stories


This newsletter has more than 650 subscribers from 50 countries. Please 
forward this newsletter to people interested in Decision Support Systems 
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Join us at IFIP WG 8.3 Conference on Decision Support Systems (DSS),
Decision Support in the Internet Age, Cork, Ireland,
July 4-7, 2002. Paper submissions due November 30, 2001. 


DSS Wisdom

Gordon Davis (1974) summarized the information systems support needed 
for decision making and planning and control.  He noted "The MIS support 
for decision making thus consists of a comprehensive data base, a data 
base retrieval capability, statistical and analytical software, and a 
model base containing model-building software, decision models, and 
decision aids (p. 335)."  Also, he noted "The planning process requires 
a planning model, input data, and manipulation of the model to produce 
the planning output.  The information system should provide support for 
each of these requirements (p. 348)." 

Davis, Gordon B., Management Information Systems: Conceptual 
Foundations, Structure, and Development. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974.


Ask Dan!

Can DSS and Decision Support technologies help reduce the threat of 

Before answering this question, I want to remember those who died and 
extend my sympathy to the many people who have been directly impacted by 
the tragedies of September 11, 2001.  May we all find strength to make 
the hard decisions we will face in the weeks and months ahead.

Some of those hard decisions will relate to trying to prevent terrorism. 
I do think Decision Support Systems can be helpful.  Knowledge-Driven 
DSS can be built to help profile passengers at Airports and Train and 
Bus Stations. Data-Driven DSS can help agencies like the U.S. 
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) track visitors to the U.S. 
and other countries and monitor their movements. Communications-Driven 
DSS can assist is coordinating police and investigative efforts. Many 
decisions related to who can enter a country, use services like air 
transportation, purchase items like firearms, or make financial 
transactions can be supported by DSS.  The problem in building such 
systems is generally not the capabilities of the technology, but rather 
the problem lies in obtaining quality data.  Data gathering for new DSS 
and their use can have a major impact on individual liberties and 

Also, we need to realize that new uses of Information and Decision 
Support technologies will not completely eliminate the threat of 
terrorism.  In fact, for some security and safety concerns low 
technology solutions may actually be more effective, less intrusive and 
much cheaper to implement. Many people are concerned that airplanes are 
vulnerable to hijacking and hence they are now afraid to fly.  An 
elaborate computer-based DSS profiling system, physical security 
measures and even sky marshals may help reduce these fears. Some 
observers even advocate Data Mining and elaborate intelligence systems 
to check passsenger manifests. These DSS might also help, but they would 
be costly and certainly not "fool-proof".

Both DSS and "low tech" solutions need to be considered.  If our concern 
is that a hijacked plane will be used as a weapon, then we need to 
examine a broad array of alternatives for reducing the likelihood of 
that happening. One "low tech" solution that comes to mind is making it 
physically impossible for any passenger to enter the Pilot's Cabin. I've 
heard suggestions that a controller on the ground should determine 
access or that a lock should secure the cabin. Given how ruthless and 
brutal terrorists can be, I doubt that such approaches would work. An 
alternative on large passenger airlines is to only allow entrance to the 
Pilot's Cabin from outside of the airplane. This solution will be 
costly, but it is more likely to keep terrorists from hijacking an 
airliner and using it as a weapon. Also, a physical modification of an 
airliner involves a one-time cost rather than on-going costs.  From a 
psychological standpoint, passengers would have a visible indication 
that a terrorist in the passenger cabin could not force or cajole entry 
into the Pilot's Cabin.

Would we still need security and DSS at airports? YES. Could planes 
still be hijacked? YES. Could planes still be used as weapons? PERHAPS, 
but it should be MUCH LESS LIKELY. Once pilots are screened and safely 
in the Pilot's Cabin, it is very unlikely that a passenger could gain 
control of a plane. Both pilots and passengers would be much safer.

Any Decision Support Systems that are built to assist in combatting 
terrorism will need to be updated and improved regularly to reduce 
chances that terrorists can exploit the systems.  The users of the DSS 
at ticket counters or passport control checks will need to remain 
vigilant.  "Human" interaction and decision maker judgment will be part 
of a decision support solution.

Finally, although we need to explore Decision Support options to help in 
the War on Terrorism, sometimes it is better to change the physical task 
environment and business and decision processes rather than using 
technology to improve decisions. If we can change the decision that 
needs to be made or the importance of the decision then we may not have 
the same concern about "poor" decisions that created the need to improve 
decisions in the first place.



What's New at DSSResources.COM

09/09/2001 Updated and posted Document-Driven DSS page. Updated and 
posted DSS Roulette.


DSS News Stories - September 10-23, 2001

09/20/2001 ROI for handheld computers, Planet PDA summit December 4-6, 

09/19/2001 Free online decision tool from SAP; mySAP supply chain 
management value calculator.

09/18/2001 Microsoft SQL Server rated highly in survey of 644 OLAP users 
from 46 countries.

09/16/2001 Invention Machine Corp. introduced Knowledgist 2.5 to create 
a personal knowledge base.

09/12/2001 Landmark Graphics announced StrataMap Framework Builder, a 
3-D geological framework building and editing application.

09/11/2001 Oracle acquired 3Cube, a maker of collaborative software for 
online meetings.


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