Visualizing Sea Level Rise

Starting in Summer 2016, member Ted Gutsche will lead a team of four FIU faculty members — including Eyes member Juliet Pinto — in efforts to visualize sea level rise in South Florida via virtual reality.

The Mobile Virtual Reality Lab is a nearly $20,000 project funded by the School of Communication and Journalism. Beginning in Summer 2016, the project provides enhanced digital storytelling opportunities for students and citizens of South Florida. Read the full proposal.

Production and Storytelling

In 2016-2017, the MVR Lab, in collaboration with, is focused on creating stories for South Florida communities that focus on the effects of sea level rise. In addition to initiatives that will produce stories about Coral Gables’ immigrant communities, the lab will produce:

  • A VR/3D project that introduces users to the interactive and daily experiences of sea level rise, a story that has since been difficult to tell given the “hidden” nature of rising seas in South Florida
  • A VR/3D project that examines the architecture and infrastructure of South Florida related to rising seas to promote public, digital communication about future challenges to our built environment
  • A VR/3D project that shows users potential water height in some areas of South Florida due to rising waters and absent of massive changes to infrastructure
  • A social media and advertising campaign (also in VR/3D) to engage audiences with access to low-cost VR/3D opportunities to view and interact with the projects

Research and Scholarship

This lab will help students and citizens express their knowledge from interacting with virtualreality technologies in trade and professional publications, as well as in faculty-led, refereed articles. Questions for both practice and scholarship that students will explore include:

  • To what degree does VR/3D target messages at specific audiences while still keeping objectivity of the reporting?
  • To what degree can VR/3D enter the voice of the storyteller into the reporting as a means of engagement?
  • How can journalists and strategic communicators use VR/3D to include graphics and text as data points, perhaps including questions and user comments?
  • To what degree does the interjection of self in to VR/3D storytelling guide people to particular messages?
  • What ethical and legal challenges exist in the use of the platforms to report and deliver information?