Funded by: FSC 2014-2020

Start date (1): 14 Dec. 2020         End date (1):  13 Jun. 2021

Start date (2): 4 Jul. 2023            End date (2): 3 Jul. 2024

Partners: Human Inspired Technology (HIT) Research Centre (University of Padova), Autorità di Bacino Distresttuale delle Alpi Orientali

HTLab Involved People: Luciano Gamberini, Anna Spagnolli, Alice Bettelli, Leonardo Pierobon. Elena Zanella

River floods are one of the most frequent and threatening climate events, and because of climate change, they are expected to become even more frequent and intense. Indeed, river floods have an increasingly devastating impact on the safety of citizens and our planet. The Virtual Water project aims to investigate the behavioral models implemented in emergency situations following riverbank breakdown/floods and facilitate the learning of the correct evacuation procedures. In addition, the project aims to educate citizens to recognize the risk factors that indicate an imminent river flood, in order to increase the safety perception and the risk awareness in people living in the proximity of a river, an eventually their quality of life. To achieve these objectives, an interactive virtual simulation of a river environment will be designed and implemented, allowing the user to face a flood emergency in a realistic but safe way. Indeed, Virtual reality a technology widely employed to recreate reality-like scenarios, including dangerous ones, allowing users to observe and interact with phenomena that would otherwise be difficult to deal with in a real context due to the high associated risks.

The Virtual Water project will follow a participatory design approach, involving a multidisciplinary team with highly qualified personnel from different fields. In particular, a series of participatory activities (e.g., affinity diagram, focus group) will be carried out with HCI experts, designers of virtual environments, hydrogeological engineers, and target users, to identify educational contents and interactive modalities to build and provide the virtual experience.Once implemented, the virtual prototype will be tested by end users, with a special focus not only on the educational content, but also on usability and user experience. Virtual Water represents an incredible opportunity to empower citizens’ ability to face flood emergencies. Virtual Water: a virtual experience for real learning.


Gamberini, L., Bettelli, A., Benvegnù, G., Orso, V., Spagnolli, A., & Ferri, M. (2021). Designing “Safer Water.” A Virtual Reality Tool for the Safety and the Psychological Well-Being of Citizens Exposed to the Risk of Natural Disasters. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 674171.

Master Thesis:

“Tutorial design for an Immersive Virtual Reality Serious Game to support river emergencies” by Elena Zanella (2023); Co-supervisor: Alice Bettelli; Supervisor: Luciano Gamberini

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