Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Immersive visualization for ecosystem services analysis and trade-offs

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posted on 2024-02-26, 04:21 authored by Benjamin Powley

Changing land use to improve one ecosystem service can affect other ecosystem services, so a potential land use change should be analysed before implementation. Land use analysts using existing ecosystem services modelling software, and users of the results of ecosystem services analysis identified problems with modelling tools applied to ecosystem services analysis. A User Centred Design process was adopted in this study, to design and implement an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) visualization system, Immersive ESS Visualizer. Immersive ESS Visualizer was designed, and implemented for users of differing levels of geospatial expertise, to assist with visualization and analysis of ecosystem services data. Features include multiple handheld maps, a scenario map, layers, filters, zoom, and navigation by gliding. Handheld maps allowed users to create layouts with multiple maps for comparison. A user study was performed to compare the effectiveness of Immersive ESS Visualizer to existing media, a 2D screen and paper maps. The user study investigated the effectiveness of Immersive ESS Visualizer for communication to a stakeholder. The most highly ranked features of Immersive ESS Visualizer included the file list, tab menus, handheld map, and zoom buttons. The study found that Zoom assisted participants with their comparison of data in VR, Immersive ESS Visualizer was good for inspecting hillshade, placing maps side-by-side was useful for comparing data, and participants adopted 3D positioning techniques to arrange maps to assist their analysis. Participant expertise was classified based on VR expertise, data expertise, map expertise, location expertise, and spatial technology expertise. Participants with more VR expertise found Immersive ESS Visualizer more effective. Participants had positive responses to their experiences communicating with the researcher while using VR, the zoom feature. The laser pointer and the facilitator’s 2D screen assisted participants to communicate while in the VR HMD. Immersive ESS Visualizer could potentially be extended to other datasets, the features available could be extended into a multi-user system.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Computer Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Engineering and Computer Science


Anslow, Craig; Marshall, Stuart ; de Róiste, Mairéad