A new augmented reality experience initiated by Oxford-based environmental charity Earthwatch Europe allows audiences to immerse themselves in the challenge of protecting a city from the effects of the climate crisis.
Working in collaboration with award-winning creative agency Atticus Digital, Earthwatch has created a virtual, built-up urban area. Through a series of interactions, people are able to introduce natural elements like trees and green roofs in different combinations. These nature-based solutions can help protect the city from the effects of the climate crisis, such as flooding and heatwaves, but also provide other powerful benefits such as homes for wildlife and improving people’s well-being.
The augmented reality project builds on Earthwatch’s international scientific research into nature-based solutions. The benefits of nature-based solutions vary according to local conditions, their placement, quantity and degree of management. By leading research in 17 major cities across nine countries, including the UK, the Independent Research Organisation aims to gain new insights into the effectiveness and associated benefits of natural processes locally.
Cities are increasingly vulnerable to the consequences of the climate crisis, including more severe and frequent floods and heatwaves. Urbanization is also a major factor putting pressure on our wildlife, with 41% of UK species having declined since the 1970s. These environmental issues can have serious and long-term impacts on the environment, economy and society, and are only expected to worsen in the face of climate change and growing urban populations.
Users can visualize and examine the map in AR with tablets; when the tablet scans the map through its camera, it triggers the AR app with detailed settings. Once the AR is triggered, it brings up a 3D animation on top of the physical map, as well as interactive additional information.
As part of their international research, Earthwatch has been collaborating with corporate partner HSBC, major research institutions in each of the 17 cities, as well as regional policy leaders. The charity will share findings from the data gathered, to help inform policy and the strategic management of nature-based solutions.