Immersive Storm Surge and Risk Perception

Authors: Mark Simpson*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Hazards and Vulnerability, Cartography
Keywords: virtual reality, immersive, flood, storm surge, hazards,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Immersive technologies offer new opportunities to create digital 3D representations that allow for the free manipulation of perceptual scale, such as creating maps which appear to be the size of buildings. We are in the process of piloting an experiment evaluating how an environmental scale representation linked to a map (a figural scale representation) affects spatial decision making using similar maps. We are leveraging previous work conducted by Mason (2018), who found that contrary to expectations, participants making notional hurricane evacuation decisions appeared to use distance from shore as a decision criterion, despite being shown storm surge height and extent which more closely corresponded to risk. In other words, participants in most decisions scenarios ignored the estimated severity of the phenomenon itself (as depicted on the map), a worrying finding. We believe that using an immersive representation of storm surge flooding linked to a storm surge map will result in participants weighing flood height more heavily in subsequent decisions. Accordingly, we are piloting a between-subjects experiment with two conditions. One largely replicates Mason’s notional evacuation decision making experiment to function as a control for an immersive treatment condition. In the treatment condition, participants are given an experience with an immersive storm surge visualization, which is implemented in Unity game engine and uses a head-mounted display. We will report the results of our experiences and discuss their implications, such as the utility of such systems to help inform the public about hazards risk.

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