Communicating Hurricane Risk with Virtual Reality: A Demographic Study

Authors: Angela Rienzo*,
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Hurricanes, Virtual Reality
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hurricanes and tropical storms pose a serious threat to the United States. Even as science, technology, and forecasting improve, one of the biggest threats to the safety of the general population is the inability of meteorologists to effectively communicate forecasts and warnings
to the public. This topic has been studied extensively, with a focus on how to better improve the communication between forecasters and viewers in order to prevent as much damage and loss of life as possible. However, very few studies have considered the unique sensory abilities of virtual reality, which could help the public develop a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the dangers associated with hurricanes. In our work, we develop a virtual reality simulation in which participants are shown a hurricane striking a neighborhood with damaging winds, torrential rain, and coastal flooding. They are then asked behavioral intention questions to
analyze how the simulation has influenced their response to the impending hurricane. Analysis of the results of two separate surveys that we conducted-- one on Hofstra's campus and another
in the beach front community of Long Beach, NY-- indicates that virtual reality does influence individuals to consider hurricane warnings more closely. However, the virtual reality simulation
seems to resonate more strongly with the younger individuals surveyed on-campus than the older population of Long Beach, indicating that future work should continue to evaluate the demographic controls on warning interpretation.

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