Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Science in Computer Science


Computer Science

Major Advisor

Amit Jain


Community planning problems differ from those of science, technology, and mathematics as they are not solvable with logical-empiricism. Their solutions are influenced by technology, politics, style, economics, as well as the personalities and experience of those individuals collaborating on the solution. Obtaining cooperation of the stakeholders to implement community planning solutions can be cumbersome or simply cause failure in the implementation of plans. Yet, if the stakeholders had a real handle on the cost and benefits the literature suggests that cooperation can evolve.

In this project, we explore building a reliable cost and benefit model for a set of input parameters that may allow a collaborative solution to emerge more easily. Furthermore we hypothesize that in the decision process there is a tipping point between costs related to a decision and its benefits.

In order to test the hypotheses, we have designed and tested a software framework with focus groups that included locally elected officials, economic development specialist, planners, and citizens. The software framework allowed the stakeholders to explore an interactive cost-benefit model, and researchers to collect those interactions and visualize them in real-time. The software framework developed for the study, its set up, and findings based on a focus group study are discussed.

The software framework developed for this study and the included analysis tool provided were shown to be effective in identifying the \tipping-point" moments in the group dynamics.