Flood impacts brought to life through science and technology

A team of scientists and academics from Lancaster University, JBA Trust and the Environment Agency attended the Manchester Science Festival on 21 October 2017 to raise awareness of the devastating risks and impacts posed by flooding.

The installation, based at the Museum of Science and Industry, aimed to raise understanding of flood risk. It looked to help people think about what they would do if their homes and neighbourhoods were hit by flooding.

‘Flow’ installation highlights

An augmented reality sandbox allowed people to create their own landscapes by shaping the sand. They could then digitally ‘make it rain’ to explore how water flows in rivers and across the land. The interactive sandbox, built by the JBA Trust, helped visitors investigate how different interventions, such as building flood defences or planting trees, can affect flood risk.

A giant interactive team game of ‘snakes and ladders’ conveyed the real-life experiences of flood-affected children. It shed light on the positive actions children take during a crises. Things that can be hidden when children are seen as vulnerable victims. The experiences were gathered as part of the ESRC research project Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience.

A writer-in-residence used a specially-created ‘Colossal Flood’ story dice. This helped people understand the risk of flooding, and the likelihood of large flood events. The multi-sided dice, inspired by traditional long dice, is a way of sharing stories about inland and coastal flooding.

A special flood box containing household items was the focus of a game that got people thinking about the items they would need in the immediate, and longer-term, aftermath of their home being flooded.

A ‘flood resilience home’ gave people the chance to see what the new normal might look like by illustrating ideas for design features that would be included in future houses.


Liz Edwards, of Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications, and organiser of the Flow installation, said: “Floods are major events that cause significant damage to property and infrastructure. They also have a huge long-lasting impact on lives and communities. Across the North West, and even in the Greater Manchester area with the River Irwell, we have seen devastating flooding in recent years.”

“Flow was a collaboration bringing together expertise from a range of academic disciplines. It offered a very interactive and engaging experience for visitors to the Manchester Science Festival. As well as communicating the power of floods, we aimed to raise awareness and inform people about what they should be considering in order to make themselves more resilient in case floods affect their home or community.”

Want to know more?

The JBA Trust was created in 2011 as an independent charity. It supports research and promotes the growth of knowledge and skills in environmental risk management, especially in the water environment.

Visit the JBA Trust website or contact Alex Scott, JBA Trust Programme Manager, for more information, including how you can get the JBA Trust physical models for future events. You can also visit our Research & Development web page to find out more about our collaborative work throughout the sector.

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