Augmented Reality Sandbox training day for Rivers Trusts

Working with the Rivers Trust, we developed a new Augmented Reality Sandbox and demonstration resources to show how Working with Natural Processes (WwNP) can help reduce flooding.  The model was handed over to a very enthusiastic group of Rivers Trust staff at a training day at the Tees Rivers Trust in Darlington on 8 February 2018.

Holly Baronti, a placement student at JBA Trust, writes about her experiences at the training day

Alex explaining how to demonstrate NFM features

Alex Scott shows how to demonstrate NFM features

At the beginning of the year, I began working with the JBA Trust, gaining some part-time work experience which I have balanced alongside studying for my degree at the University of Leeds.  Since starting work in the JBA Skipton office, I have been working on a project to prepare training materials for an Augmented Reality (AR) Sandbox.

An AR Sandbox is an interactive visualisation tool that shows how topography can affect water moving through a catchment.  It can show natural flood management (NFM) concepts by highlighting the ways in which the natural landscape can be altered or restored in order to reduce flooding.

With support from the FRAMES (Flood Resilient Areas by Multi-layErd Safety) project, the Rivers Trust and JBA Trust worked together to develop a new AR Sandbox for the Rivers Trust to use in schools to raise awareness of flood risk and help explain NFM concepts to the general public or stakeholders such as farmers and landowners.  The project builds on the Trust’s existing AR Sandbox.

On Thursday 8 March, I travelled to Darlington with Alex Scott, Programme Manager at JBA Trust and Iain Craigen, NFM and Flood Modelling Specialist at JBA Consulting, to deliver a training day hosted by the Tees Rivers Trust.  The purpose of this day was to present the AR Sandbox to the Rivers Trust, a charity which aims to protect the river environments across the UK, and train their staff so that they can set-up and operate the model at events around the country.

Iain explaining the calibration process

Iain Craigen explains the calibration process

The training covered all aspects of the AR Sandbox including the set-up and operation of the model, calibration of the system, troubleshooting and a guide on how to use the sandbox as a demonstration for NFM features as well as engineered flood defences.

A wide variety of organisations attended the training, including The Rivers Trust, Tees Rivers Trust, South Cumbria Rivers Trust and Wear Rivers Trust. Throughout the day, delegates were given the opportunity to be hands-on with the model at all stages, including the physical setup of the model, which definitely proved to be a task for at least two people!  A significant part of the training focused specifically on the calibration of the model as this was one of the most challenging elements of setting up and operating the model.

Once the model had been successfully assembled and calibrated, the delegates were then invited to play with the sandbox to improve their understanding of how it works and its interactive features.  The training also provided detailed examples of how to use it as a resource to explain basic topographic information as well as highlighting talking points about the different topography impacts on how water flows through the catchment.

Playing with the sandbox

Learning by doing!

The whole day was a great success, with excellent feedback from the delegates. Working on this project has not only been fun (the model is scarily addictive to play with!) but it has also been rewarding.  Attending the training session allowed me to see exactly how my work to help set up, calibrate and test the instructions for the model has made a visible positive impact for all the organisations that came to the training day, especially having had such amazing feedback.

The next steps for me with JBA Trust will be considering setting up these training sessions for other organisations, as well as working on how similar training resources can be created for the wave tank model.   I am very thankful to everyone that I have worked with at JBA Trust so far for welcoming me and helping me to settle in so quickly, and I look forward to my next project with the team!

All photographs by Holly Baronti