ATHENS, Ga. — Researchers at the University of Georgia hope that the metaverse will help save lives in the event of a real disaster.
The university is testing a simulated hurricane with residents on the Georgia coast.
The goal is to allow people to see the dangerous effects of a storm like wind, rain and storm surge without putting their lives in danger. Then, in the event of a true evacuation, homeowners would be more willing to respond.
Dr Sun Joo ‘Grace’ Ahn is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia. Her team is working on the simulation and study called “Hurricane World.”
“The more practice and experience you have in a realistic situation; it helps you better prepare for these events,” Ahn said Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan.
After a quick demonstration, Monahan went through the experience.
The metaverse is different than other virtual reality like video games because it involves almost all of your senses.
The simulation begins inside a beach house. Monaghan got a taste of the area and learned the layout. He is then sent to the “bedroom,” where the television is warning of the coming storm.
Everything seems normal until suddenly…
“My power went out. I can see things are starting to go downhill,” Monahan said as he ran through the simulation. “I’m starting to see that I made a bad decision hanging out here on the coast when the storm was coming in.”
The tendency to ignore warnings is something researchers are working to reduce.
“If the perceived threat is too high, people start to basically avoid the message. They don’t want to deal with it if it’s too much,” Ahn told Monahan.
Suddenly the simulated window breaks, glass shatters.
“The glass breaking, I felt and felt like I’m in the storm right now,” Monahan said.
Channel 2 Action News talk with Georgia Emergency Management Agency Meteorologist Will Lanxton.
He explained that in situations like this, people may not understand the risk.
“You hear stories all the time about people who have gone through something and they’re like, I’ll never do this again.” Lanxton said. “I think this will help people imagine those things and go through them without risking their lives. It can be very helpful to understand what the risk is.”
Following the Georgia coast study, UGA plans to work on simulations of inland weather events such as flash floods and tornadoes.
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