Digital Innovation in Water Education and Management
- Swinburne University of Technology, School of Design, Department of Communication Design, Bachelor of Design (Motion Design)
- Melbourne Water
Melbourne Water and final year Motion Design Capstone students from Swinburne University partnered to create a suite of interactive applications that help contribute to the Healthy Waterways Strategy 2018-2028 and aim to raise water literacy among the community. Designed as tools for developers, councils, and the community, they highlight the future of waterway management in Melbourne and help to drive learning, engagement and behavioural change. Education and training are critical components for protecting and improving the waterways of Melbourne. Engaging with the community plays a key role in supporting Australia’s natural environment and biological diversity.
The applications were designed and developed during the first half of 2020 with each student spending more than 300 hours on the industry-based project over a 13-week period. Each week the teaching team and students met to discuss progress, offer feedback and provide help, with several client presentations along the way. Regular user-testing was paramount in ensuring that each application provided a high-quality user experience. Students applied industry best-practice design processes to transform complex concepts into user friendly models, working closely with Melbourne Water to ensure that all information was accurate and reflected the messaging of the brand.
The suite of applications has an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and knowledge by bringing the outside world in and demystifying industry process and terminology. For Melbourne Water, they provide an opportunity to explore cutting edge digital platforms and see the potential for innovation in their own business areas. The topics addressed naturally evolve around sustainability and were key driving factors for the design of each of the applications. Given the applications are only available for both mobile and virtual reality devices, the environmental impact in construction and day to day use and at the end of its lifecycle is minimal.
The suite of applications provides novel approaches to communicating important topics that affect the lives of every Melbournian. For the water industry both nationally and internationally they demonstrate how digital technology can be tailored to build engaging and innovative customer experiences and showcase the impact that professional design can have on business. In addition, the partnership demonstrates how industry-engaged learning is highly beneficial not only for students but also for organisations to explore and problem-solve with design.
Each application offers a unique experience not seen before in the water industry, enabling Melbourne Water to communicate key knowledge-building messages in engaging ways to large audiences. Adopting both mobile and virtual reality technology, the applications address topics including Water Cycle, Stormwater impacts, Stormwater management and Water Catchment education, helping to contribute to the Healthy Waterways Strategy 2018-2028 and aim to raise water literacy among the community. In order to better engage the community in water education, students took a human-centered design approach tailoring each application to needs of its user base by integrating gamification elements and unique audio-visual approaches.
The applications include:
StormSmart – highlights important aspects of water harvesting and water infiltration methods to make the most of storm water.
HydroCity – has a build-your-own water cycle feature highlighting how to supply the city with clean drinking water and recycled industrial water.
Aquaform – highlights water cycle systems and how to observe natural, urban and rural water systems in various weather conditions – demonstrating the effects on the environment.
WaterWorks – immerses people in the water catchment areas around Melbourne to discover where Melbourne’s water comes from and where it goes.