CLIVE takes People’s Choice Award at MIT contest

Nicholas Hedley, director of SIRL, and a SFU professor of geography is one of the co-creators of CLIVE.

CLIVE (Coastal Impact Visualization Environment) is a project co-directed by an SFU professor. The project won the People’s Choice Award at a major MIT-sponsored contest that concluded in early October.

The contest, entitled ‘Communicating Coastal Risk and Resiliency,’ focused on identifying projects that facilitate the communication of climate change data to the public, while also providing a system from which real solutions can be identified.

CLIVE is the product of a cross-country collaboration between SFU’s Spatial Interface Research Lab (SIRL) and the University of Prince Edward Island’s (UPEI) Climate Research Lab. This technology combines sea level rise and coastal erosion predictions with complex spatial data from PEI, and runs this data through a 3D game engine.

Operating as a computer program, it is controlled with either a keyboard or a game controller. The user is able to navigate within a virtual representation of PEI and trigger visual projections of sea level rise and coastal erosion for a given year (ranging from 1968 to 2100) to see how the land is impacted.

“The dialogue it has stimulated is one of our greatest success stories. It has brought science, our best science, into the public realm,” said Nicholas Hedley, director of SIRL, and a SFU professor of geography. Hedley is one of the co-creators of CLIVE, and brought his extensive background in 3D geovisual analytics to the team.

Hedley continued, “People are no longer relying upon abstract names of government science projects, wondering what it means to them. CLIVE allows them to see what it means to them, what the implications will be.”

Although the program is focused on PEI — a region identified as particularly susceptible to sea level rise and the accompanying consequences — Hedley explained the broader applications available: “One of the greatest accomplishments with this is not just with what we’ve built, but having created a workflow that is scalable and can be applied anywhere.

“We’ve had interest from countries in Europe, the Caribbean, down in the States; some are small communities [. . .] but some are whole municipalities, cities, and a couple of international governments,” added Hedley.

Hedley spoke to the real world implications of the data offered by CLIVE: “It is about designing ways to deliver data to citizens and stakeholders of all kinds, giving people infomocracy — democratic access to spatial information.

“If we’re going to make decisions about big serious problems, whether they have to do with health, environment, quality of life, every taxpayer is entitled to the information on which decisions will be made.”