Providing decision-makers in urban planning with methodologies to analyze and compare alternative ways to solve a problem.


We developed the mcda toolkit to ease complex decision making in basic research for urban planners in academic surroundings who are less aware of how and when to use modern communication tools to attract and interact with even younger stakeholders.

Project Background

The web is rapidly changing things and with it parts of how humans interact — same applies for school routine. Is it really worth developing new participation tools within urban planning, which will be used by few and will be outdated after — let‘s say — two years? Shouldn‘t we be just there where students, teachers and parents actually live in the virtual space? In the past couple of years, information and communication technologies have become an essential part of our lives.

People integrate them into their daily lives, in order to communicate with more ease, to maintain relationships and to exchange information — We know this for sure. Numerous digital platforms are also being developed and implemented in e-participation processes.

But are these state-of-the-art? Are they accepted by the target groups and how useful they really are for e-participation processes? In order to decide which are the right communication tools for e-participation within school building projects, intents and requirements must be clarified at an early stage and some decisions made in advance.

Dealing with complex decision-making problems is often very difficult due to simultaneous consideration of manifold choices and the different consequences that can come up with.

Key project objectives

  • Build skills within academic research of what is zeitgeisty digital communication
  • Help embrace and make use of attraction-oriented research tools
  • Reduce the number of falsified decisions, while using the right kind of research tools and methods
  • Radically improve how technology is used in academic surroundings

Research tools and techniques

  • Peer group interviews → We talked to all relevant key stakeholders to identify if, when, how and even why they would not take part in urban planning processes.
  • Determine the need for new research tools vs. using tools and apps that are already heavy in use (WhatsApp, Snapchat etc.) by migrating the research data into one database afterwards.
  • Scientific research to examine how and when to use research tools in a given context with particular interest groups.


  • Ease decision making through design-thinking


  • Handling with 10+ different planning stakeholders with different opinions and research methodologies

Design process


We approached the project by observing how researchers — in the context of urban planning — decide which methods and what tools to use by meeting and speaking with those who work and act within the academic climate of urban planning.

The identified problems associated with research processes within urban planning are:

  • Research methods – Conventional research methods have been complemented and or replaced by similar or comparable web-based/digital research methods. What might not have worked before has now been transferred from analogue to digital. Digital experimental design has still the same types of structures, components, sampling designs and control measures like in classical designs without considering that how we communicate has changed in the last couple of years.
  • Proprietary all-in-one solutions – In the last couple of years we often felt an urge for all-in-one solutions on the part of our clients. Solutions that had to be proprietary and meet multiple demands at once even if the experimental design was not yet defined. What we read between the lines was a problem in developing the design process properly. Define the problem, choose the methods and tools, act agile. The latter is the hardest nut to crack. This is why all-in-one solutions will hinder success.


We developed a customized multi-criterial decision aid model for participative processes in urban planning which is high valuable and can be used in complex decision-making processes, especially when several alternatives with correspondingly numerous heterogeneous requirements are available. It helps stakeholders focus on the project itself, is logically structured, consistent and, above all, particularly easy to use.

The model in short

  • Dividing decision-making problems into smaller, intelligible parts.
  • Fast and easy analysis of the individual parts.
  • Merge the relevant parts into a meaningful solution.

Process and components

Especially in the case of group decisions, MCDA tools helps to talk about the options and alternatives and allows to take into account the ideas and preferences of all group members in order to reach an effective result as fast as possible.

  • Define alternative possibilities or actions
  • Determine the target system for the desired outcomes.
  • Determine decision-making criteria.
  • Evaluate decision-making criteria.
  • Weight criteria against alternatives
  • Point out the solution

User Experience Design

DECYS is a web app we designed for building projects and business development, that makes it easier for key players to take decisions.

The following example shows how DECYS helps making the right choices for your project intents and requirements.

  • Determine target criteria
  • Prioritize target criteria
  • Define questions
  • Rate and categorize questions
  • Define target groups
  • Define types of output

Lessons learned

  • Sometimes it’s more efficient and cost-saving to use apps and services that always up and running and used heavily by users and then to merge the relevant data, than to build a platform or ecosystem by yourself.
  • Decision-making can be processed.
  • Physical presence and real-life interaction with citizens maximizes the outcomes and creates more meaningful insights, than reading statistics and white papers.

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