Inond’Action is an experience of virtual reality created by the French Red Cross, with the participation of VR Connection and Aviva France. Its purpose is to raise awareness among the general public to flooding risks, to the importance of preparation and to create a desire for citizens to be formed, to go further.
The scenario lasts about 15 minutes during which, participants virtually travel between different spaces and answer some challenges. The person will have only some minutes to make all useful actions, get out of the house and save their loved ones.
The effects of climate change are no longer in doubt, and the increment of risks of natural catastrophes is real. Lots of studies show that extreme flooding is going to increase in the world and in France between now and 2050… mostly because of the consequences of climate change.
The French Red Cross acts to protect and unconditionally relieve vulnerable persons and build, with them, their resilience. Resilience is heard as the capacity to get ready for disasters and crises, to deal with it, to get back up and to find a dignified living and autonomy. Raising awareness of the risks of flooding is therefore a key part of the Red Cross strategy to help people become more resilient.
Flooding risk is the first natural risk in France. 1 person over 4 is exposed to it, but only 50 % of them consider knowing how to react to face it. However, a good understanding of the risks and the implementation of an action plan will enable us to act more effectively in case of emergency.
The utilisation of virtual reality helps to encourage curiosity, inspire the desire to learn, build confidence and give the user the feeling that he/she can act. At the end of the experience, participants have to realise the importance of prevention and preparation to disasters (beyond the reaction to the flooding).
Technical details & Operations
This scenario of virtual reality lasts about fifteen minutes and follow those stages:
- Stage 1: Technical introduction: getting to grips with the headset and controllers of virtual reality, a training to learn how to interact with objects. The person will be accompanied by a Red-Cross volunteer during all the experience.
- Stage 2: Thematic introduction: few elements appeared to explain to the person the extent of the flood risk, in link with climate changes and why it is important to be well prepared. Then, it is explained to the person that his/her house is in a flood zone.
- Stage 3: Sequence “Catakit”: proposition is made to the person to constitute his Catakit (emergency kit). He/she can choose from around 15 objects, arranged on the shelves. They are asked to explain their choices to the trainer, at the end of the experiment. The purpose is not to learn how to do a Catakit with a precise selection of objects, but to show the importance of asking yourself beforehand, and to prepare our reactions.
- Stage 4: Sequence “House”: The person is inside the house, and the water is rising. The person has only a few minutes to take a few useful actions: close the windows, cut the gas, warn the neighbours… Here again, the aim is not to teach the participants a fixed list of useful actions, but to show that anticipation and preparation in advance of the actions to be taken enable you to act effectively, when time is running so fast.
- Stage 5: A brief conclusion to thank the participants and remind them that it is possible to prepare ourselves.
- Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2 Headsets can be used
- A space of 2m x 2m is required and a 3m x3m area is recommended for an optimum play
- Choose an enclosed and covered space and avoid exposure to direct sunlight
- Once installed, the headset does not require an internet connection and can be used on its own
On Reunion island, the French Red Cross is preparing and raising awareness of the flooding risk through its Indian Ocean Regional intervention platform (PIROI).
This virtual reality initiative is part of the Paré pas Paré project – a programme around the prevention of natural risks. Thanks to virtual reality, they can now deploy new awareness raising modules in schools and during general public events. This tool of prevention, used since 2021, has already reached more than 1,500 people who got sensitised on flooding risk. On the neighbouring island, the Mauritius Red-Cross – a National Society part of the regional program of PIROI, has also adopted this tool adapting the proposed scenario to users in the Mauritian context.
Deployment & Impact
This virtual reality experience will appeal to young people aged 13 and over (with parental consent for minors) and adults alike!
Virtual reality is very simple to use. A technical introduction teaches how to use the headset and the virtual reality levers in a few minutes, and animators will support participants during the experience.
Headsets of virtual reality are lent by the headquarters of the French Red Cross to voluntary organisations. Since the creation of the Inond’Action experience, over a hundred helmets have been loaned out of ten events (workshop, association forums, introductions for the general public, in-house use…). Benevolent structures are also independent for the purchase and utilisation of their own virtual reality headset.
The real social impact of the virtual reality experience haven’t been measured today.
For further information, the virtual reality experience is always followed by a discussion with the animator. It can be completed by a formation proposed by the French Red Cross: initiation of risk reduction, raising awareness of social emergencies, preventing everyday accidents, first aid rescue initiation …