6.4 Testing Augmented Reality Tools for Communicating Storm Surge and Encouraging Preparedness: A Survey of Texas A&M at Galveston Students

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 9:15 AM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
David Retchless, Texas A&M Univ. at Galveston, Galveston, TX

Personal preparedness for hurricane storm surge depends strongly on flood experience; without such experience risk perceptions tend to be lower and the likely emotional toll of disaster is underestimated, limiting motivation to prepare. Thus, to help improve preparedness, there is a need for tools to communicate storm surge flood risk in a more direct way that echoes real-world experience. Location-based augmented reality (AR) applications have the potential to meet this need by improving the presence, immediacy, and immersion of hazards education and outreach. To explore this potential, we develop an AR tool for storm surge and an accompanying tablet-based interactive survey that tests the AR tool’s effectiveness in motivating preparedness and evacuation intentions. We pilot the AR tool and survey among students of Texas A&M University at Galveston, where many students have not personally experienced storm surge, despite Galaveston’s history of repeated damaging surge events (most recently from Hurricane Ike in 2008). Although research has shown the ability of AR applications to engage audiences, it has yet to systematically consider which elements of the AR presentation are most responsible for engagement. Accordingly, the pilot study compares how an AR application affects engagement with the storm surge hazard with the effects of two controls presenting the same hazard data – an interactive web map and a tabular text-based display. By isolating the effects of geographic perspective (on-the-ground AR display versus top-down map display) and level of detail (decreasing from AR display, to map, to text-based table), this study evaluates whether and how these variables shape student engagement. Addressing this problem will help educators and extension agents design AR and web map displays to maximize audience engagement, an important pre-requisite to developing sustainable, community-based hazard mitigation.
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