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Connecting the drops – gaming and visualisation technologies emerging in the water sector

Visual communication in the water management space has exploded over the past decade; from simple infographics cards communicating changes in waterway health, to serious games helping communities improve their literacy to adapt with climatic pressures. The world over, the response is building and we were interested to hear from some colleagues currently working in this area.

The way we communicate, matters

The increasing need for a collective response to modern global pressures, has seen a rise in research and development on how to better branch across the diversity of public interest and help shift human behaviour. To this end, the field of visualisation tools and serious games is growing as more and more sophisticated and technologically advanced avenues open-up for public access and engagement.

The International WaterCentre at Griffith University is well known for our international collaboration opening the door for relationship building and knowledge sharing opportunities, including this one. On Thursday 22 June, the QWMN Engagement Team convened across the seas and were joined by approximately 60 participants from across Australia, The Netherlands, Poland, the UK, Indonesia and others, to discuss how we engage non-institutional stakeholder using water modelling, visualisation and serious games.

The Presenters

Hosted by Piet Filet from the Delft office in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the hour and a half online event began with brief introductions, before participants heard short presentations from each of the six invited speakers from Australia and The Netherlands about their experience in development and use of visual communication tools for water. We heard from:

Gregor van Essen – Managing Director – the Water Agency: Serious gaming for community participation for climate adaptation;

Sarah Cochrane – Engagement Coordinator Australian Rivers Institute: Building Catchment Resilience Visualisation Tool;

Alan Hoban – Director Civil and Water Bligh Tanner Pty Ltd: Involving the community in the design and modelling of a creek naturalisation project;

Emma Jones – Project officer – Reef Catchments Limited: How to engage with farmers and what technical tools help;

Michiel van Lierop, Advisor Transition, Waterprof: Choosing tools for building a climate action community; and

Hilde Sennema, Researcher, Delft University of Technology Water Values: a serious Board Game


Link to Recording here


Emergent Themes

Speakers were then separated into breakout rooms for a market hall-style question time where participants could join and leave each room as they pleased. This was followed by another breakout discussion where everyone was asked, “What are your reflections on the use of these tools so far?” and “How might these tools be used to enhance engagement practice?” where key themes emerged such as:

  • the “touchy-feely”, interactive nature of visualisations, games and VR provides a sensory experience, capable of connecting more deeply with the way a user feels,
  • the ability of these tools to support water literacy and place all stakeholders on a level playing field, and
  • how these tools are providing a platform to bring non-institutional stakeholders along for the journey, walking beside the community, not “engaging with”.

This was the first of what we hope to be many discussions around how we might utilise and support the development of this space within the water management and modelling field.


This session was recorded. Please feel free to watch the video here.


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