3D tech might help with disasters like Syria’s refugee crisis and Fort McMurray

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 6.13.25 PM

After fires in June 2015 engulfed the camp of Algarhih (in the village of Al-Marj) in Lebanon, the community and Field Innovation Team utilized VR as a way to demonstrate evacuation routes.

Advanced 3D technology is being used to help in the Syrian refugee crisis and might prove invaluable to disasters like the Fort McMurray wildfire. That’s the message from Desiree Matel-Anderson, chief wrangler of the Field Innovation Team, a Utah-based non-profit organization that deploys volunteers from around the globe to handle disaster reduction and resiliency efforts.

Using headsets such as Google Cardboard or Oculus Rift, Matel-Anderson and her colleagues were able to figure out evacuation routes from fires that can start in refugee camps in the Beqaa Valley of eastern Lebanon—and get them to the folks that need them in a hurry.

She says the “virtual reality capture” tech has been used before for “empathy building,” to help put people in the emotional shoes of refugees. “However, we thought that this technology could be used to actually help and support and assist the refugees themselves directly, not just the outside world. So we utilized these 360 cameras to get footage of the different routes that are easily downloadable to smartphones, which most refugees and survivors in the Syrian refugee crisis have.”


Evacuation 360Matel-Anderson will be a keynote speaker at the World Conference on Disaster Management in Toronto in early June at the International Centre. She says at her presentation, people will learn “a three-step design process that helps gear people towards creative solutions in real time in disasters. So we’re really going to take our participants… into a train derailment with an oil spill and hazardous material spill, and we are going to have them solve the challenge in real time.

Desi Matel-Anderson

Desi Matel-Anderson

“Now, not everybody in that room deals with hazardous materials, not everybody in that room is in business continuity. There are a lot of different fields in emergency management, but we hope to show participants, and what we do in disasters is utilize this design process to come up with the best solutions, most creative solutions on the fly, so that we can help empower ourselves and survivors. So our hope is that we can show how design can help support disaster response delivery and continuity.”

A TC Media site,
Business Solutions

TC Media

Transcontinental Media G.P
1110 René-Lévesque Bldv W.
Montréal, QC H3B 4X9
(514) 392-9000