Simulation gaming : an approach to participatory airport planning

Frech, Gregory M.
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Zuber, Paul B.
Steggert, Frank X.
DiCesare, Frank
Williams, Graham G
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Urban and environmental studies
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Public airport development is an issue of intense local debate. Recent design solutions for airport development have begun to face what is becoming the classic planning problem: how to maintain environmental quality under the more immediate pressure for economic growth. However, even in the cases when one might conclude that the tradeoffs have been satisfactorily resolved from a technical point of view, vehement citizen resistance persists.
This thesis research sets out to demonstrate the viability of the simulation gaming approach to citizen involvement. In many important ways it is shown superior to the traditional public hearing procedure. While the subject area is clearly focused on the airport development issue there is a logical extension of the planning process design using simulation gaming to other controversial public improvement projects as well as general comprehensive planning activities.
The use of interactive modeling contributes to the understanding of the economic/environmental tradeoffs in making airport development decisions. Such is the state of the art in any number of physical planning enterprise. The adaptation of an interactive computer-based model into the format of a simulation game extends this capability by offering a technical evaluation tool that can be manipulated by non-technically-oriented persons. In addition, the gaming format necessarily identifies all competing interest groups according to their motivations for action and willingness to compromise. Finally, by using the simulation gaming approach as an integral part of a continuous planning process timely citizen involvement can be assured at any point in time.
A major source of citizen dissatisfaction with the planning process for public improvement projects is exclusion from the decision opportunities regarding the choice of alternative courses of action. This exclusion begins with the lack of early public involvement in the initial phases of a planning study. It is also a consequence of the relative anonimity and inaccessability enjoyed by development project protagonists. Furthermore, there is very real frustration felt on the part of citizens that they are unequipped technically to feel confident about the objectivity of a strictly professional evaluation of alternative actions, including the "no action" option.
August 1976
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