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Sheffield Waterways Strategy Group subjects of URSULA experiment Posted: 16/02/2009

Gathered around in a dark underground chamber at the University of Sheffield, an URSULA experiment was underway. The human Guinea pigs: Sheffield Waterways Strategy Group (SWSG), on whom URSULA researchers were trialling the first manifestations of a hi-tech tool being developed by the URSULA project. But while some experiments need to attract their subjects with sweets or even money, the incentive for the SWSG is that the findings will help the development of a powerful new tool to support decision making in urban river corridors.

The chamber the research took place in was the University of Sheffield’s state of the art Reflex Studio, an immersive virtual reality facility where computer generated images can be projected onto a 10ft by 8ft screen. Here the SWSG participated in the first of a series of workshops, the objective of which was the introduction to a prototype visualisation tool developed of Ball Street Bridge in Sheffield by the URSULA team. The visualisation tool represents landscapes “computer game” style so that the user can explore the landscape and can represent current and future landscapes. This enables users to envisage and so aid them evaluate potential changes before they happen; useful when such changes are difficult to conceive mentally.

The workshop was arranged so that the SWSG could give feedback on the visualisation tool. Such feedback from people with expert knowledge in the decision making process provides vital information on the potential such visualisation tools have for supporting decision making. This is important as it will guide the evolution of the tools being developed by URSULA, allowing the researchers to make sure that the potential of the tools are fully realised.

For more information please contact the researchers of the URSULA project.