Interactive visualisation tools


Explaining complex flood risk modelling outputs to a non-technical audience can be challenging, especially when there are lots of different scenarios and options. Our clients often need to undertake public consultation or stakeholder engagement with local communities that will be directly affected by flood defence schemes.


We have recently started exploring two new ways of visualising flood risk.

Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox

As part of our support for the JBA Trust, we have been helping to demonstrate the Trust’s AR Sandbox. A very interactive visualisation tool, it shows how topography affects water moving through a catchment. By shaping real sand, participants create their own catchments. These are then ‘augmented’ in real time by a projector which shows a coloured elevation map and contour lines. Following this, participants can ‘make it rain’. They can then watch how the virtual water flows through the catchment and explore how changes in land use affect flooding.

The software and design is based on the specifications shared by the University of California, Davis who have created an excellent library of online resources. JBA Trust is exploring how to develop new functionality in the software. They aim to show concepts like natural flood management, including the impact of permeability, roughness and storage on flood risk.

Projection Augmented Relief Model (PARM)

In partnership with Nottingham University we have developed a new PARM. The model shows the impact of different rainfall events and flood defence scenarios in Keswick. This PARM has been developed and is owned by JBA Consulting. The PARM consists of a 3D printed scale model of Keswick, based on LIDAR data, with a projector that overlays information on to the 3D model.


Both models are a beneficial way of bringing to life the work we do at varying events, including conferences, training exercises and stakeholder engagement events.

The AR Sandbox is best suited to explaining concepts and principles of topography, landscapes and flooding rather than accurate or detailed representations of places.

The PARM on the other hand is an excellent way to explore different flood risk scenarios in specific places. It can show geospatial information, for example flood map outlines based on TUFLOW animations, very accurately. Also, a huge range of information can be shown. This includes historical land use, local landmarks, photographs of previous flood events and proposed new flood defences. We are planning to use the PARM to help support decision making at the consultation stage for flood defence schemes.

Want to know more?

For more information on this project contact Alex Scott. You can also find out more about the JBA Trust’s AR Sandbox, and their other physical models, on the JBA Trust website. Our Research and Development web page gives an insight into some of our other development projects.

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