The mission of Decision Theater North is to provide a cutting-edge immersive visual experience to facilitate conversations and decision-making by communities, agencies, industry and academia.

Decision theaters” use interactive, high-resolution visual environments to enable discussions and decisions by policymakers, researchers, and industry leaders. The growing need for these theaters stems from: advances in visualization technology; data sets of unprecedented size; the increasing need for team approaches to complex research and policy questions; and a growing acknowledgement of the importance of visual stimuli to fully engage the decision-making capacity of the human brain. The goal of a decision theater is to display the dynamics of a problem, and the effects of policy options, in a clear and compelling manner – thus helping experts to develop the best approaches and solutions.


The complex issues decision theaters are confronting in the Lower 48 are increasingly present in the Arctic, which is becoming a vital region for development. As the nation's Arctic University, the University of Alaska is in a unique position to provide an incredible opportunity to address this critical area via Decision Theater North. The possibilities for Decision Theater North are endless, and include such uses as high-end data visualization, policy-making, situational awareness, and outreach and instruction. As Decision Theater North comes out of the building phase into full production mode, challenges in the following broad focus areas will be addressed via collaborations across government, agencies, Native organizations, industry and higher education.





Early Adopters

Even though the Decision Theater North is still in the build-out period, the university and community have started to take advantage of the newest collaboration space in Fairbanks. Users during this time-period have included: 

  • Arctic Collaborative Workshop attendees
  • Arctic Science Summit Week
  • Alaska Observers and Knowledge Hub Science Steering Committee
  • NSSI Arctic Observers Network Stakeholders Meeting
  • Thesis Defenses
  • NASA Arctic Collaborative Environment
  • NOAA Sandy FCDAS visit with Steve Voltz
  • Alaska Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer Workshop planning group
  • Alaska EPSCoR Modern Blanket Toss
  • Alaska Satellite Facility 25th Anniversary

Decision Theater North is the only room on campus where I could showcase a multi-faceted, data-driven, visualization-centered thesis project. The DTN allowed me to break down a very complex research project using 7 screens, data visualizations, and web resources. DTN’s extensive screen real estate and the intimate setting allowed my committee and I to unpack my thesis in an immersive and visual way. The space paved the way for thoughtful defense questions and nuanced engagement with my work.
— Vanessa Raymond

Data to Decision Mini-Grants

During the building phase of Decision Theater North, Alaska EPSCoR sought out visualization projects to take advantage of its capabilities. The projects had to be relevant to an Alaskan population(s) or community(ies), and had to include a detailed plan of how the visualization could be used as a means to communicate scientific data and to engage member of the public. The theme of the project had to reflect social-ecological science research themes. Alaska EPSCoR awarded three Data to Decisions mini-grants:

1. Communities Narrating and Visualizing North Slope Development Scenario

2. Tsunami Inundation and Pedestrian Escape Routes

DTN provides some unique capabilities to engage coastal communities and emergency managers in order to promote long-term resilience to devastating tsunamis. One of the key features of the DTN is a set of large monitors, which could be conveniently used to display numerous geospatial datasets, input parameters to the Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst toolkit developed by USGS as well as to present evacuation scenarios to the decision makers.
— Dr. Dmitry Nicolsky

3. Visualizing Human Impact on Landscapes Along the Road System

The Future of Decision Theater North

We are very excited about all the possibilities that the Decision Theater North can bring to our university, community, and nation. If you are interested in learning more about the Decision Theater North -whether it be for a tour or collaborating on your next grant proposal - please click the button below to contact us!


Decision Theater North is the latest member of a growing decision theater network that include the originators of Decision Theater, Arizona State University, and the Washington DC based McCain Institute which the facility the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ DTN was modeled after. We would like to graciously thank all of our partners for the support to get the farthest north decision theater up and running.