NexView: Empowering decision makers to assess the impacts of development on social-ecological systems in the Lower Mekong River Basin by increasing access with integrated and visualized data, models, and decision making tools

Science Center Objects

The NexView integrated decision framework will facilitate informed discussions and decisions by enabling policy makers to manipulate and explore multiple decision scenarios and understand the impacts of these decision alternatives before decisions are made. 

The Science Issue and Relevance: Rapid development and economic competition in the Lower Mekong River Basin drive the need for multidisciplinary decision support to promote responsible infrastructure development, good governance, and transboundary cooperation. In the face of economic development pressure, better and more explicit understanding of the interactions between social and ecological systems of the Lower Mekong River Basin will enhance the understanding and decision making among stakeholders including citizens, local and national governments, and the Mekong River Commission. In order to assist in local, natural resource decision making, The U.S. Department of State, through their Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), is partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to increase the availability and predicative capacity of existing social, economic, groundwater, surface water, and other biophysical data to improve decision support tools for natural resource decision making. Policy makers and technical users will have the opportunity to gain greater understanding of the potential impacts of different potential decision making outcomes by exploring dynamically integrated data and models in an immersive, visualized environment that reflects the priorities and perspectives of each stakeholder.

throwing net

Researchers are building on existing regional research effort (Public domain).

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Under the guidance of the U.S. Department of State, the USGS and Arizona State University, in cooperation with Mekong River Commission and with assistance from Vietnamese and Cambodian university faculties, will build on existing regional research efforts while collecting and creating new information. The Cambodia-Vietnam border area, from the Tonle Sap Great Lake to the sea, will be the initial geographic focus for groundwater, surface water, and socioeconomic data, information collection and analysis.

Lower Mekong River Basin

The Cambodia-Vietnam border area, from the Tonle Sap Great Lake to the sea, will be the initial geographic focus​​​​​​​ (Public domain).

 

The NexView integrated decision framework will incorporate several existing decision making and water resources models with new socioeconomic data and analyze and visualize these collective tools using Arizona State University’s Decision Theater® which will integrate and conduct data analytics while visualizing available model outputs and information to facilitate informed discussions and decision/policymaking. 

 

First, the NexView framework will incorporate the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Shared Vision Planning (SVP), which incorporates traditional water resources planning, public participation, and computer modeling, in the Decision Theater®. Additionally, the NexView framework will use the existing: USGS modular finite-difference flow model (MODFLOW) which models groundwater flow; the macro-scale variable infiltration capacity (VIC) hydrologic model which models hydrologic systems on a macro-scale; and a multi-year, daily time step crop simulation model (CropSyst) which models how crop systems management affects productivity and the environment. These models will be integrated into the overarching NexView project along with new data and information collected as part of the NexView program. Importantly, the NexView integrated framework will also include socioeconomic drivers and indicators (e.g., rice production, fishery catch) and new data collection.

 

The NexView framework, using the Decision Theater®, will enable technical experts and policy makers alike to manipulate and explore multiple decision scenarios and understand the impacts of these decision alternatives before decisions are made. NexView will improve stakeholder understanding of the complex interrelated environmental, social, and economic aspects of the Lower Mekong River Basin and allow stakeholders to have more informed conversations regarding the consequences of decisions.

boat on Lower Mekong River

This research will improve livelihood through responsible development (Public domain).

 

Future Steps: This integrated and visualized social-ecological modeling approach, focusing on water resource management, is intended to increase transboundary cooperation and informed decision making. Ultimately, it is to improve the livelihoods for the people living in and around the Cambodia-intended Vietnam border through responsible development. Future efforts are expected to expand this pilot program’s geographic area of interest while identifying and filling information gaps and adding other beneficial disciplines.