Both the results of a decision-making process and the process itself are important in place-based decision making. All stakeholders should be involved in developing the questions that guide the decision making, in choosing the factors included in the planning, and in assessing the outcomes of decision making. This chapter focuses on the data and tools that are required to support sound decision making, that is, to support decisions that both are technically sound and engage the people who are impacted by them.
As seen in earlier chapters, there is no single indicator, or set of indicators, that will work for all transportation and livability issues or in all places for a single issue (Sawicki and Flynn, 1996). Indicators vary with the interests of people in the community. Therefore, indicators are best selected within the context of a particular decision or set of decisions. Similarly, while tools such as Geographic Information Systems (GISs), decision-support systems, and remote sensing are aides to transportation planning, technology cannot choose the problems that are addressed. For tools to address problems, communication must take place among people, transportation experts, technology experts, and governments at all appropriate levels.
This chapter explores the role that federal, state, regional, and local governments, as well as private sources, have played in making data available. It also identifies which gaps exist and what possible steps might