OWL Project

Here + Now + Us Initiative

Strategy to Increase Community Engagement in Climate Change Impacts

Antioch University collaborated with Climate Access and Marin County, California on a cutting edge engagement project to test the use of visualization and dialogue to motivate action on climate change. In the near future in Marin County, sea level rise will cause significant flooding for communities in the region.

The San Francisco based company Owlized LLC installed two OWL digital viewfinders – a device modeled after the classic coin-operated binoculars commonly found at scenic viewpoints. The OWL viewfinder has been modernized with a virtual reality environment housed inside the viewfinder that allows people to see the potential impacts and responses to sea level rise in the location they are standing at rendered in 3D. Research data collected from these OWLS helped us to gain insights into how to make seal level rise and related flooding impacts relevant to citizens, as well as best practices moving forward.

The project was funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IX and Autodesk LLC. Advisors on the project were; Frank Niepold, Climate Education Coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office; Heidi Nutters, Coastal Training Program Coordinator at San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; and Tristan Randall, Special Projects Executive at Autodesk.

To learn more about how this project can affect local community members, read the September 2015 article in Scientific American: “Virtual Reality Viewfinders Show Sea Level Rise and What to Do about It.”
To find out more about this project, contact Christa Daniels, Antioch University New England at .

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