Water treatment Digital Solutions Europe

Can you help solve Aquatech Town?

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

A serious gaming experience called “Aquatech Town” will give visitors the chance to become Mayor for the day and make decisions to help a community solve a water crisis.

Become Mayor for the day

Have you ever wanted to become Mayor for the day to help a town or community make the right decisions to ensure a circular water economy?

How would you react if your town faced doubled population growth together with historic low rainfall?

Well, now, through a serious gaming, interactive experience, you can!

At this year’s Aquatech Innovation Forum, visitors will get the chance to participate in a “Serious Gaming” workshop.

"Players are given the freedom to make decisions that won't impact real-world assets." Dr Mehdi Khoury, a senior research fellow and Dr Barry Evans, a research fellow from the University of Exeter, will run a serious gaming workshop.

Visitors can actively participate in “Aquatech Town”, a virtual community comprising 300,000 inhabitants.

Through a series of correct decisions on the water cycle, players can compete against each other to help the town overcome water stress by implementing circular, energy-efficient solutions.

Why so serious?

While gaming has traditionally been created for entertainment purposes, serious gaming has been developed with the primary goal of education and learning.

By creating a “safe environment” with structure, rules and goals, players are given the freedom to make decisions that won't impact real-world assets. In short: serious gaming can bring learning into practice.

Water companies are increasingly using serious games to help in their strategic future planning and strategies, helping to link decision support systems, interactive visualisations and data science.

One example is South-West Water. The English utility has developed and now uses a serious game to help planning decisions as part of its business plan for the next five years.

Elements such as socioeconomic or cost assessment have been embedded into different decision options in the game.

Serious gaming can also help utilities to engage with customers and stakeholders. By demonstrating predictions for future water demand and supply, regional water authorities can discuss long-term decisions with informed customers.

“Serious gaming can also help utilities to engage with customers and stakeholders.” The serious game demonstrated at the Innovation Forum has been developed as part of the Horizon2020 (H2020) NextGen collaboration that aims to drive the circular economy through a wide range of water-embedded resources, including water energy and materials.

The four-year H2020 project brings together a partnership of 30 organisations to demonstrate technological, business and governance solutions for water in the circular economy.

Two scenarios for Aquatech Town

In a circular economy context, serious games can allow participants to better understand a circular economy for water and see how the different components are impacted by water stress, for example, energy and material recovery.

Speaking to Aquatech Online, Dr Mehdi Khoury said the serious game would enable players to witness how different urban water cycle components affect "flows of water, energy and material recovery".

He said: “Within the initial prototype version of the serious game, participants can view how these different components are impacted by water stress. They’ll be able to witness how they interact together and how they can be tuned to maximise the circular economy of water in a virtual urban catchment area.”

For Aquatech Town, two scenarios will be provided:

Starting case: business as usual.
With a population of 300,000 and normal rainfall, participants will explore how to improve the circular economy score in a standard situation when the system is not under unusual stress. The effects of different water technologies on the system can be measured.

Aquatech Innovation Forum case: facing overpopulation and water scarcity
With a doubled population and a lower rainfall, participants will explore how to help "Aquatech Town" cope with the stress and improve its circular economy. Water becomes a precious resource, and environmental damages need to be mitigated. Energy consumption and carbon emissions need to stay under control, and material reuse strategies, as well as financial optimisation, will need to be considered.

For more information and to sign up for the Aquatech Innovation Forum to participate in the Aquatech Town serious game, please visit here.

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