TNO has at its disposal the most important databases containing information about the subsurface and groundwater of the Netherlands. This information is released and made usable for a wide range of spatial applications by means of geographic information systems (GISs) and a supporting set of model instruments.
Examples of these spatial applications are the siting of sand and gravel extraction operations, the effects of groundwater extraction and the subsurface storage of energy for office sites. For years now, TNO has managed and analysed very large quantities of complex information pertaining to the use of space. As a result of this experience, the organisation is well equipped to deal with soil and groundwater themes as well as the making of plans related to the use of space. In principle, the ICT instruments and GIS instruments that have been developed may be used to make connections between all sorts of spatial data in order to test or develop spatial policy.
A couple of projects have been carried out for province of South Holland. This has involved mapping the whole province in terms of its suitability for various intended spatial functions (business parks, urban expansion, nature, etc.). Suitability was based on very many assumptions and policy objectives as well as the physical soil and groundwater data. This input was translated into geographic basic maps. Using GIS and decision methodologies it is possible the construct suitability maps from basic maps such as these (see figure above).
The compilation of such map images for the purposes of spatial policy tends to be preceded by various interactive sessions with policymakers and other involved parties. For such sessions TNO is developing an interactive set of GIS instruments with which decisions, versions and scenarios can be incorporated into the map analysis there and then. Their consequences can then be shown immediately in map images. One example of this is the Maps4Planners instrument. This is described in the accompanying panel.