VIRGINA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Flood Risk Management Program (FRMP) works across the agency to
focus on the policies, programs and expertise of the USACE toward reducing
overall flood risk. According to a survey by Princeton Survey
Research Associates International in 2013, approximately forty
percent of homeowners in America do not know their home’s flood risk
can the USACE conduct outreach to this population? To address this question,
there is growing interest in utilizing interactive media to communicate flood
risk through "gamification."
Gamification is the application of game playing elements to other
activities, thereby encouraging new ways of interacting with a product or
service. This can include virtual reality, augmented reality, and other digital
media implemented as an outreach tool for raising public awareness of flood risk,
especially for younger audiences. Augmented reality is a technology that
superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world
providing a composite view.
Jackets' Interagency Flood Risk Management Program projects that are partially funded by
the USACE are making use of gamification to communicate such risk and are
currently in development. The California QR Code Project is utilizing
"quick response" codes linked to an ESRI
Story Map to
educate the public on flood risk within California such as in their "Understanding
Floods in California" story map.
The Nevada Multimedia Continuation takes it a step further with the goal to
develop video gaming features that promote critical thinking in water
management to educate Nevada residents, especially youth, to be more aware of
their flood risk. Hunter Merritt, the USACE technical lead for both projects
explains, "Look around. We see young people gaming or consuming digital
media every day. We should be reaching them where they spend their time. If the
commercial industry is using this media to promote products, we should be using
it to promote awareness, too."
example of gamification already in action comes from the USACE Omaha
District. The Missouri
River Basin Balancer Game asks
users to regulate flow from two dams while predicting weather patterns and
balancing needs. A user can gain insight into flood risk management by taking
charge of river operations and experiencing the unique challenges presented
when managing reservoir operations in a variety of weather conditions.
Additional examples are FEMA’s FloodSmart website.
examples include one involving both augmented reality and virtual reality such
as the Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
which creates a specific landscape and flooding scenario with a dam breach.
Digital applications can consider simulating flood risk by also including tools
such as Google Cardboard or Oculus
which utilize virtual reality incorporated into systems used for emergency
response exercises and decision support systems. These applications also increase
awareness of natural disasters such as the 2015 video “The
Nepal Earthquake Aftermath in 360° Virtual Reality,” which uses virtual reality technology to immerse users in the aftermath of
the 2015 Nepal Earthquake and the “Chennai
which is the first virtual reality documentary from India.
the use of digital innovation through interactive tools can engage the next
generation in becoming knowledgeable of flood risk hopefully leading to actions
to reduce risk. So consider, how can interactive media to engage the public be
utilized in your next project?