The Use of Immersive Technologies for Public Engagement

The 6th Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference will be held over the 22 – 23 May at The Star Gold Coast (previously Jupiter’s), Queensland.

Dr Allison Rifai, Principal Program Officer, Office of the Inspector-General Emergency Management, joins us this May to discuss ‘The Use of Immersive Technologies for Public Engagement’.

Effective public engagement should be part of day-to-day business in the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery phases of disaster management. Communities need to be engaged before, during and after disaster events. Consistent and committed public engagement builds understanding and trust between entities and the broader community.

Dr Allison Rifai

Technology has provided us with new ways of engaging communities and sharing information. It has become a crucial part of day to day life and has changed how people think and apply knowledge. Engagement is an essential part of building resilience and helping communities to understand their role under a model of shared responsibility.

Stakeholders within the emergency management sector, such as local government, state agencies and non-government organisations, are now looking to innovative technologies to aid community engagement about risk, self-preparedness and resilience. Emerging immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, have the potential to support more efficient and effective communication and engagement with communities.

These new technologies are swiftly become part of everyday life through commercial, retail, entertainment, education and social media applications. Expansion into the emergency management space has been largely international, although recent applications in Queensland demonstrate that the technology is available and being utilised. While a number of challenges still exist, much of the potential of these technologies to support public engagement for emergency management in Queensland is yet to be explored.

This paper/presentation, achieved via a collaborative Internship Program with the Office of the Inspector-General for Emergency Management and Queensland University of Technology, examines current and potential applications of virtual and augmented reality in emergency management.

For more information on the 2017 Australian & New Zealand Disaster & Emergency Management Conference and to secure your spot, visit