This VR experience was part of a study undertaken to awareness of the future impacts of Climate Change on cities. Twelve experts related to the field of disaster management, academia and urban planning, were approached to take part in a two-fold semi-structured quantitative experimental interview, initial part involves immersion in a virtual reality (VR) experience and followed by an interview. Cavill Avenue, in Surfers Paradise, was used as the urban setting, due to its historical climate effects, and was digitally replicated using LiDAR technology. The generated models subsequently formed part of the VR experience. The simulation allowed participants to navigate within the urban environment impacted by flooding and they could also interact with the virtual objects present. At the close of the session, an open-ended interview was undertaken, aimed at driving conversations around the potential importance of VR as an educational tool for Climate Change effects, such as flooding and sea level rise. The experiment and interview were undertaken at a location of the expert’s choosing. The results obtained pointed to VR being widely accepted as a useful educational tool as it offers unparalleled immersion and interactive experience.
Seven enablers were uncovered to likely be responsible for the generation of awareness in VR: Emotions, senses, feelings, fauna, data, landmarks and mobility. The study found that VR could be used as an educational tool for Climate Change and experts were ready to embrace the technology. Based on its unique attributes and constant improvement being brought to the technology, VR has the potential of rapidly disseminating information and drive awareness of Climate Change to the masses, with a ubiquitous adoption.