Flood risk mapping using augmented reality

Communicating complex risk information can present challenges. To navigate these challenges, GeoSmart uses the latest technological breakthroughs in Augmented Reality (AR) to produce highly immersive and interactive three-dimensional visualisations of spatial data.

This award-winning GeoSmart capability was recently showcased at the GeoBusiness 2023 conference and exhibition in London.

The ability to communicate 3D spatial data to various stakeholders can be limited by their ability to interpret a 2D map. Professional spatial data users have been trained to visualise the 2D representation in 3D. Still, this skill is rare in the general population, which presents challenges when there is a need to communicate risk concepts.

The development in recent years of AR technologies now permits 3D spatial data to be visualised as digital models in the real world. This development occurred at the same time as AR entry-level hardware technology became widespread through smartphones and tablets.

Presenting at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre under the theme of Land and Natural Resources, our Research and GIS Consultancy Manager, Dr Ian Walkington, shared insights learned from developing AR applications to share flood risk data, including both technical and design aspects.

Dr Walkington provided a walkthrough of the main steps in considering the data required, its process, the software development tools and the final target hardware to a packed audience.

The presentation saw Dr Walkington performing a live demo by downloading the project data with the app using a tablet computer to visualise an at-risk location in Hebden Bridge. The app effectively places a 3D model within the room whereby the tablet, through its camera, provides a movable window into the data. The tablet demonstration showed how easy it was to step into the data and interact with map features intuitively.

The live interactive demonstration of the AR application visualised Geosmart’s new FloodSmart Analytics data set, which provides property level, all flood source map layers and flood risk data for every property in England, Scotland and Wales. The multi-user application allows participants to interact on a shared digital landscape, whether in the same location or on different continents.

Attendees were provided with an awareness of the technical development steps required to develop an AR application. GeoSmart can undertake AR projects for clients as part of its GIS Consultancy services and produce flood risk datasets suitable for use in AR applications.

GeoSmart’s AR solution was developed by Dr Walkington in collaboration with academics at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). It has been recognised by leading experts for its exciting potential, having won an Excellence in Innovation award at Flood Expo 2022, Europe’s leading flood management event at Birmingham NEC. It was one of just four projects selected for the prestigious award.

This alignment of emerging technologies and ease of entry means that now is the perfect time to use AR to communicate 3D spatial data to non-professional users.

Contact us today to find out more and discuss how GeoSmart can support your plans for highly engaging data visualisation.