Virtual and Augmented Reality for Community Preparedness to Disasters [Part II]

Project Sponsor


This project will create physically realistic virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) environments that represent extreme events such as wildfires, floods, landslides, winds, and earthquakes affecting our communities. The project will use these environments to show how resilient infrastructure and response preparedness in a disaster can significantly reduce the probability of physical and human losses. The virtual environment will then be deployed to VR/AR devices for egocentric and immersive viewing. The project will be led by the NYU Immersive Computing Lab, NYU Disaster Risk Analysis Lab, and the World Bank’s Global Program for Safer Schools (GPSS). The project’s main goal is to raise awareness and prepare our communities to respond to extreme events using immersive realities to enhance the effectiveness of drills, such as evacuating during floods.

Category: Urban Infrastructure

Project Description & Overview

The project will focus on building AR/VR environments for floods and earthquakes and assessing surveying people’s responses to them. Students will select the infrastructure of interest (e.g., schools, hospitals) according to their interests and data availability. The project will have three parts:
Building an augmented reality environment for floods (*): Students will create an augmented reality environment to represent floods with data from New York City. Using 3D building data, flood records, and projections for sea-level rise, the students will create urban flooding environments useful for testing community response and decision-making, e.g., during evacuations.
Building virtual reality environment for earthquakes (*): Students will use existing data on building response to earthquakes to create a virtual reality environment with buildings shaking during an earthquake. Students will develop these environments for different earthquake magnitudes and shaking levels to assess vibration and overturning of non-structural elements in the building and damage in the structural elements.
Surveying human response in virtual reality environments: Students will test the effectiveness of these immersive environments by designing a survey to assess their experience. Results will be compared with interviews for people who witnessed the floods during Hurricane Ida in 2021.

(*)VR/AR environment interactivity will be explored.


1. Floods
3d building data for NYC
Flood records, maps, and projections
2. Earthquakes
Building shaking records during earthquakes


Students will require a background in immersive reality, with experience in Unity. Otherwise, they are highly encouraged to enroll in the Urban Data visualization Class. Please contact professor Ceferino or Sun for further inquiries about competencies.

Learning Outcomes & Deliverables

Learning Objectives:
1. Build skillsets for virtual and augmented reality system engineering with a focus on floods, winds, or earthquakes.
2. Gain experience in performing subjective studies with broader applications such as UI/UX.
3. Gain an understanding of quantitative and data-driven methods to analyze disaster consequences, such as deep neural network-based statistical models.

1. Augmented and virtual reality environments for floods, winds, or earthquakes.
Summary of survey findings.
2. Final presentation including a World Bank’s larger audience.
3. Progress and final reports.