A picture is worth a thousand data points: Exploring visualizations as tools for connecting the public to climate change research

Labelled elements of an interactive visualization of secondary energy production and consumption in Canada from 1960 to 2010.
Labelled elements of an interactive visualization of secondary energy production and consumption in Canada from 1960 to 2010.

In this newly published open source paper, Robert Newell, Ann Dale and Celia Winters at Royal Roads University in BC investigated the efficiency and effectiveness of interactive data visualisations in the commmunication of building energy production and consumption. Two visualizations were built that held contrasting features: an abstract, static visualization built in the form of a time-series graph and a dynamic, interactive visualization with a ‘picturesque’ design. The results indicate that the interactive visualization held higher potential for drawing in and maintaining audience interests, whereas the static visualization was more useful for users wishing to gain a more detailed understanding of the data. These findings suggest that both types of visualizations have complementary strengths, and collaboration between trans-disciplinary research teams and graphic artists can lead to visualizations that attract diverse audiences and facilitate different information needs and access.

In addition to the most interesting research, the paper itseld includes some interactive PDF features inherently picking up the topic of interactivity in its own presentation.

Link to the paper

 

Research paper comparing 2D versus 3D landscape visualisations with regard to economic valuation

2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)
2D seminar room (a); and 3D presentation in the spatial
lab (b) of the Vienna University of Technology (source: Getzner et al. 2016)

In this fully open access paper, Michael Getzner, Barbara Faerber and Claudia Yamu compare 2D versus (stereoscopic) 3D landscape visualisations of different landscape scenarios in the Alps. Although there have been previous studies of landscape visualizations of alpine scenarios, I found that this paper is adding a couple of particularly new perspectives: a) the use of stereoscopic (anaglyph) visualisations and b) the link to the economic valuation of different landscapes through the participants. It should be said that this study like many others was conducted with students. However, I think it provides the legitimization to use landscape visualisations for other studies on the economic valuation of such landscapes.

 

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New publication series on Digital Landscape Architecture

Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture
Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture

 

Buhmann, Erich; Ervin, Stephen; Hehl-Lange, Sigrid; Palmer, James (Hrsg.)

JoDLA – Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture 1-2016

17th International Conference of Information Technologies in Landscape Architecture 01-03 June 2016, Istanbul, Turkey

2016, X, 374 Seiten, 170 x 240 mm, Broschur
ISBN 978-3-87907-612-3

This is the first issue of the new Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture. JoDLA addresses all aspects of digital technologies, applications, information, and knowledge bases in research, education, and practice pertaining to landscape architecture and related fields. The journal publishes original papers that address theoretical and practical issues, innovative developments, methods, applications, findings, and case studies that are drawn primarily from work presented at the annual international Digital Landscape Architecture conference. Its intent is to encourage the broad dissemination of these ideas, innovations, and practices.

This issue of the Journal of Digital Landscape Architecture, 1-2016, presents contributions from the 17th annual conference at the Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey, (June 1 to 3, 2016) covering five broad themes:

• Systems Thinking in Landscape Design Processes
• Landscape Visualization and Analysis
• Geodesign Concepts and Applications
• Mobile Devices for Geodesign
• Teaching Methods in Digital Landscape Architecture

Link to the publisher for ordering

New research paper on sound in landscape visualisation

Ass. Prof. Dr. Mark Lindquist, who completed his PhD at the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield, just published a paper in Landscape and Urban Planning summarizing his findings about the contribution of sound to the perception of landscape visualisations.

His key research findings are:

  • Sound significantly alters perceptual responses to 3D landscape visualizations.
  • Realism and preference are moderated by congruency of visual and sound content
  • Eye level Google Earth visualizations receive low realism ratings.
  • Aural-visual survey data collected via the web is comparable to laboratory data.
  • Sound and visuals that are spatiotemporally congruent are recommended for simulations.

You can read and download the fully accessible open source paper by Lindquist, Lange and Kang (2016) here: From 3D landscape visualization to environmental simulation: The contribution of sound to the perception of virtual environments

Views and landscape elements used in the research: view 1 (top row); view 2 (middle row); view 3 (bottom row); by visual condition (1 left column; 2 middle column; 3 right column) (©Google Earth).
Views and landscape elements used in the research: view 1 (top row); view 2 (middle row); view 3 (bottom row); by visual condition (1 left column; 2 middle column; 3 right column) (©Google Earth).

 

 

 

 

Information Technology and Renewable Energy

Special issue released: The April 2015 issue of Environmental Impact Assessment Review, edited by Lorenz Hilty and Bernd Page, provides an overview of ICT-based approaches to facilitate the assessment of renewable energy solutions.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01959255/52

Special Issue: Critical Approaches to Landscape Visualization

Special Issue on Critical Visualization

Recent advances in landscape visualization have dramatically increased our ability to portray past, present, and future conditions across a range of scales from site to region, altering the ways in which people perceive their environments and influencing changes in social and cultural practices. While landscape architects and planners have long employed representational methods, the proliferation of new digital technologies for visualization is rapidly outpacing the theoretical grounding needed to meaningfully guide design and planning outcomes. This special issue attempts to bridge this practice–theory gap by bringing together diverse contemporary practices, methods, and theoretical perspectives in order to build a shared understanding of the relationships between visualization techniques and the knowledge they produce.

http://sites.psu.edu/dogblog/critical-visualization/

*** The full issue is open access until Nov. 20 ***

Special Issue: Critical Approaches to Landscape Visualization
Edited by Katherine Foo, Emily Gallagher, Ian Bishop and Annette M. Kim
Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 142, Pages 1-244, October 2015

Evaluating presentation formats of local climate change in community planning with regard to process and outcomes

I am excited to present the following research paper in Landscape and Urban Planning because it summarizes the work my colleagues and I put into my favorite research project, the Kimberley Climate Adaptation Project KCAP. It was very rewarding working closely with the local community, visualizing different development scenarios and their interactions with climate change impacts. Great to see that about 70 recommendations from the original visioning process were adopted in various policy documents and a dozen actually implemented. The paper looks in more detail at one of the implemented mitigation measures, a flood retention area along the river that leads through Kimberley.

The paper is open access and can be downloaded for free at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615000651

This figure shows the Kimberley town center with an overlay of potential flood areas as identified in the municipal flood risk study (highlighted through circles) and the areas for future mountain pine beetle susceptibility, derived from the susceptibility model (orange/dark shading in black/white for high susceptibility and yellow/light shading in black/white for medium). It led to the conclusion that increased mountain pine beetle damage will increase the amount of dead wood and therefore increase flood risk from debris jams at the highlighted bottlenecks (geodata© 2009 Google)
This figure shows the Kimberley town center with an overlay of potential flood areas as identified in the municipal flood risk study (highlighted through circles) and the areas for future mountain pine beetle susceptibility, derived from the susceptibility model (orange/dark shading in black/white for high susceptibility and yellow/light shading in black/white for medium). It led to the conclusion that increased mountain pine beetle damage will increase the amount of dead wood and therefore increase flood risk from debris jams at the highlighted bottlenecks (geodata© 2009 Google)

Reference:
Olaf Schroth, Ellen Pond, Stephen R.J. Sheppard, Evaluating presentation formats of local climate change in community planning with regard to process and outcomes, Landscape and Urban Planning, Available online 1 May 2015, ISSN 0169-2046, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.03.011.

Abstract:
This study synthesizes two evaluations of a local climate change planning process in a rural town in British Columbia (Canada), which was supported through landscape visualizations. First, the impact of the visualizations, based on scientific environmental modeling and presented in three different presentation formats, verbal/visual presentation, posters and a virtual globe, was evaluated with regard to immediate impacts during the process. Second, the long-term impacts on decision-making and actual outcomes were evaluated in a retrospective evaluation 22 months after the end of the initial planning process. Two results are highlighted: according to the quantitative pre-/post-questionnaires, the visualizations contributed to increased awareness and understanding. Most importantly, the retrospective evaluation indicated that the process informed policy, operational and built changes in Kimberley, in which the landscape visualizations played a role. The post interviews with key decision-makers showed that they remembered most of the visualizations and some decision-makers were further using them, particularly the posters. The virtual globe seemed to be not a “sustainable” display format suitable for formal decision-making processes such as council meetings though. That may change with the further mainstreaming of visualization technologies or mobile devices. Until then, we recommend using display formats that can be re-used following a specific planning event such as an Open House, to ensure on-going support for effective decision-making over the longer-term.

Research Highlights:
• Visualizations in a climate change planning process were assessed as very helpful by local stakeholders and residents.
• Visualizations presented in a virtual globe facilitated understanding and increased awareness during an open house.
• 22 months later most decision-makers still remembered or used the visualizations.
• Visualizations embedded into process informed policy, operational and built changes.
• Although the virtual globe presentation format was effective during the process it was less so in the long term.

Keywords:
Climate change; Participatory decision-making; Landscape visualization; Virtual globe; Process evaluation; Policy outcomes

“See the Change” – Article in Landscape Architecture Magazine December 2013 about Climate Change Visioning

On pages 64ff. of its December issue, the Landscape Architecture Magazine LAM is reporting about the Climate Change Visioning work at the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning:

New paper about the use of interactive web tools in environmental and landscape planning (open access)

Sebastian Krätzig and Bartlett Warren-Kretzschmar
Article: Using Interactive Web Tools in Environmental Planning to Improve Communication about Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2014, 6(1), 236-250; doi:10.3390/su6010236
http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/6/1/236/

Interactive Modeling of Self-Adapting Botanical Trees

Already a few weeks ago, a colleague drew my attention to a couple of new papers on interactive self-adapting botanical tree models, published by the computer visualization group in Konstanz, who had also presented at Siggraph 2011 (see my previous post about Siggraph). This new development in procedural modeling techniques makes tree models possible that will interact with their environment! For example, if you insert a building, the surrounding trees will change their shape and branches will give way to the new object in a most realistic way.

How are these astonishing results achieved? Input is a skeleton-based tree geometry. In contrast to traditional tree growing models, the new technique approximates biologically motivated transformations. Main factor is the light distribution and the amount of resources a tree receives. On that basis, the growth rate for the entire tree and individual branches as well as branch ages are calculated. A complex illumination model makes sure that light conditions are updated for different stages of tree growth. Additional factors are phototropism and gravitropism and I was surprised how realistic the outcomes look.

Because the approach does not require the tree model to be reconstructed from the beginning, it performs much better than previous approaches and is even suitable for real-time applications. That means, you could insert an object such as a building but also other trees and experiment in real-time how the surrounding trees might change their growth in response to each other and inanimate objects.

For more information and the original research paper, please see

SIGGRAPH 2012:
http://graphics.uni-konstanz.de/publikationen/2012/plastic_trees/website/

SIGGRAPH Asia 2012:
http://graphics.uni-konstanz.de/publikationen/2012/tree_growth/website/

Plastic Trees: Interactive Modeling of Self-Adapting Botanical Trees from Soeren Pirk on Vimeo.