Posts from May 2020

THINKlab Launch: MOBILISE 2.0

18 May 2020

The University of Salford’s THINKlab is pleased to announce the launch of the MOBILISE digital platform version 2.0 with a range of new features for supporting disaster risk reduction and response for natural disasters.

MOBILISE 2.0 offers a scalable digital platform with a user-friendly interface, allowing agencies to upload and explore hazard, exposure and vulnerability data in an interactive manner to establish a common understanding of their local risks and implement disaster risk reduction actions. The underlying risk information server runs on an Azure cloud service and the new visual interfaces allow agencies to access risk information remotely via tablets, touch tables, workstations or mobile phones, thus enhancing capabilities for agencies to implement a collaborative approach in disaster risk reduction and response.

MOBILISE 2.0 comes with a VR interface, based on the Unity game engine, in addition to a browser-based interface. This novel VR interface allows the user to visualize 3D city representation as textured point clouds or meshes which are captured from airborne sensing devices such as drones. This development enhances the capability of the MOBILISE platform when itis used during the disaster response phase, as well as the post disaster reconstruction phase. 

The MOBILISE digital application, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), allows disaster management centres to combine vulnerability, exposure and hazards’ information from multiple agencies to create a comprehensive understanding of the risks in their country and to undertake disaster mitigation actions as well as prepare and respond to disasters.   

Ben Monaghan, MOBILISE lead Software Engineer said: “MOBILISE 2.0 has been redesigned with a scalable architecture and reconfigurable user interface allowing the agencies to create a bespoke solution to suit their own disaster risk management practices.  The platform has been implemented using advanced software toolkits to achieve performance and ease of use while enhancing the learnability, efficiency and effectiveness of the overall platform.”

Professor Terrence Fernando, Director of THINKlab said “The THINKlab team has been working tirelessly over the last few months to produce MOBILISE 2.0 which is a state-of-the-art digital platform for conducting disaster risk reduction and response activities. We now plan to make the MOBILISE 2.0 version available to countries other than our current partner countries – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Malaysia. This will allow us to accelerate the uptake of the MOBILISE platform and create a greater impact around the world in saving lives through intelligence driven based disaster preparedness and response activities.”

The MOBILISE platform is targeted at helping various governments to implement the Sendai Framework Priority 1: ‘Understanding Risks’ and Priority 2: ‘Risk Governance,’ as established by the United Nations.

Led by the THINKlab Director, Professor Terrence Fernando, the digital platform creates an infrastructure which offers intelligence to multiple stakeholders who can work together to help reduce the impact of natural disasters on their local communities. Set up in May 2017, the project is due to be completed in December 2020. For more information visit.

2D Web Brower: MOBILISE Web Interface  for Disaster Risk Assessment or Response
3D Interface: MOBILISE VR Interface for Disaster Risk Assessment, Response or Damage  Assessment (Point Cloud Based)
3D Interface: MOBILISE VR Interface for Disaster Risk Assessment, Response or Damage  Assessment (3D Mesh-Based)
MOBILISE Interface for Accessing Risk Information

THINKlab develop ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ to mark 34th anniversary

11 May 2020

THINKlab are excited to be working with University of Salford partners to develop the second phase of the Virtual Chernobyl virtual reality digital programme.

The platform will enable users to ‘visit’ Chernobyl where they can interact and learn more about the radioactive ‘exclusion zone’ in Ukraine. Users will be able to travel through the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and explore the abandoned landscape where they can understand more about the people and animals affected by the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Developed by the University of Salford’s Professor Mike Wood and Prof Nick Beresford, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, in collaboration with colleagues across the University, the first phase of Virtual Chernobyl meant audiences around the world could experience what it is like to walk within the radioactive wilderness and venture into areas of the exclusion zone which others seldom visit.  

The disaster which took place 34 years ago on 26 April 1986 saw 120,000 people, including farm animals evacuated from the 5000 km2 area around the reactor site, which is still abandoned today. The second phase of Virtual Chernobyl, developed in partnership with the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, has built on feedback and will mean developments will let users see how animals including bears, wolves, elk and wild boar have increased in population and are making it their home.

The Director of THINKlab, Professor Terrence Fernando commented: “We are excited to further improve the Virtual Chernobyl experience. The developments in hardware for capturing full 360-degree video in much higher resolution, paired with display resolution, and portability advances of virtual reality head mounted displays, will result in a richer user experience. We are excited to co-create this new release with Mike and Nick allowing them to better disseminate their scientific findings to a wider audience.”

Prof Mike Wood said: “Advances in photographic and acoustic recording techniques mean we are now able to estimate the number of animals by observing them directly rather than looking at their tracks. We have embarked on a project using motion-activated cameras and sound recorders to investigate wildlife in different areas of the exclusion zone and evaluate the influence of radiation on animal populations.  Through ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ people can get a real sense of the truly unique Chernobyl environment, from which people have been excluded.”

The Chernobyl wildlife research has been featured on the BBC and Channel 4 News, with ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ being showcased at the Manchester Science Festival, Museum of Science & Industry, various scientific meetings and at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.  ‘Virtual Chernobyl’ has also been used to support research-led undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at Salford.