GALVESTON, Texas – How would you like to know just how bad the next flood in your neighborhood will be before it happens? A team of researchers at Texas A&M Galveston is working on a new tool using augmented reality to make it happen.
Remember Pokemon Go? The game blended fictional characters with real places and became a popular app. TAMU Galveston scientists hope they’ve created the next step.
“Folks seem to really enjoy the Pokemon Go for flooding way of describing the project,” Dr. David Retchless said.
Dr. Retchless and his team designed the app to better prepare people for floods. It takes rainfall, storm surge forecasts and flooding scenarios developed by the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores and then projects high water levels.
Stick figures customized to users heights then show exactly how high potential floods will rise.
In Hurricane Harvey’s wake that killed more than 75 people in Texas, Dr. Retchless believes augmented reality can make warnings from city and county officials more engaging to those new to town and those who are skeptical or curious.
“People when we’re not expecting the storm might be a little bit more likely to open up something like this, just to take a peek to see what things might look like under different storm scenarios,” Dr. Retchless said. “My hope is that it will encourage preparedness well in advance of the next storm.”
So far, his team’s app works only in Galveston. It will not be available for public download until later this year. However, his team intends on developing models for Houston streets and one to show the impact of an “Ike Dike,” a long sea wall to protect the region from storm surge.
They may also add gaming elements to the app, Dr. Retchless said.