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This paper presents an online, web-based Serious Game developed to investigate end-user behaviour when faced with complex WDS design and rehabilitation problems. SeGWADE (Serious Game for WDS Analysis, Design & Evaluation) couples an innovative and visually attractive interactive front-end with a server-side modelling engine handling real-time hydraulic simulation.
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Serious Gaming for Water Systems Planning
and Management
Dragan A. Savic *, Mark S. Morley and Mehdi Khoury
Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter, North Park Road, Exeter EX4 4QF, UK; (M.S.M.); (M.K.)
*Correspondence:; Tel.: +44-1392-723-637
Academic Editors: Zoran Vojinovic and Michael B. Abbott
Received: 22 July 2016; Accepted: 8 October 2016; Published: 14 October 2016
Water systems planning and management share the same roots with gaming, as they rely
on concepts in systems analysis, operations research and decision sciences. This paper focuses on
Serious Games (those used for purposes other than mere entertainment), with applications in the
area of water systems planning and management. A survey of published work on gaming is carried
out with particular attention given to applications of Serious Gaming to water systems planning and
management. The survey is also used to identify the principal criteria for the classification of Serious
Gaming for water related applications, including application areas, goals, number and type of players,
user interface, type of simulation model used, realism of the game, performance feedback, progress
monitoring and game portability. The review shows that game applications in the water sector can be
a valuable tool for making various stakeholders aware of the socio-techno-economic issues related to
managing complex water systems. However, the critical review also indicates a gap that exists in
the Serious Game application area with the lack of water distribution system games. A conceptually
simple, but computationally elaborate new game for water distribution system analysis, design and
evaluation (SeGWADE) is presented in this paper. It has a main goal of finding a least-cost design for
a well-known benchmark problem, for which the game environment takes the computational and
visualisation burden away from the simulation tool and the player. The game has been evaluated in a
classroom environment in which a high degree of player engagement with the game was observed,
due to its basic game ingredients and activities, i.e., challenge, play and fun. In addition, a clear
improvement in learning has been observed in how players attempted to identify solutions that
satisfy the pressure criterion with players readily identifying the proximity of the better solutions to
the starting, infeasible configuration. Through applications of Serious Gaming such as this, decision
makers can learn about the complexity of the water distribution system design problem, experiment
safely using a computer model of a real system, understand conflicting objectives (i.e., minimization
of cost and satisfaction of minimum pressure) and develop strategies for coping with complexity
without being burdened by the limitations of the ICT technology at their disposal.
serious games; water infrastructure; flood; drought; simulation; visualization; stakeholder
engagement; shared vision planning; role playing
1. Introduction
Simulation and optimisation tools have been used extensively in water planning and
management [
]. These computer modelling tools are used in various processes to support
rational decision making and have their roots in systems analysis, operations research and decision
sciences [
]. The emergence of the above approaches have historically been linked to the experimental
work by applied mathematicians and engineers aimed at supporting military operational planning
during the Second World War.
Water 2016,8, 456; doi:10.3390/w8100456
Water 2016,8, 456 2 of 17
Gaming has similar roots in systems analysis, operations research and decision sciences.
The earliest use of gaming in support of decision making are in war games [
]. They have a long
history and originated as devices for planning military operations [
]. The first applications of war
gaming can be traced back to political-military exercises conducted by the German and Japanese armed
forces prior to the Second World War [
]. The use of gaming in a political-military-security context was
subsequently transferred to a non-military context, hence the interest in gaming simulation by, not only
computer scientists and game designers, but also decision makers, public policy makers, engineers
and scientists. Mayer [
] provides a detailed review of publications related to the development of
gaming simulation for purposes such as public policy analysis and planning.
This paper focuses on Serious Games (SG) in the area of water systems planning and management.
In other words, it focuses on the complex problems that decision makers (both private and public) face
when required to define and evaluate alternative water development plans, technical solutions and
management policies. Several definitions are required in order to introduce the basic concepts.
1.1. Definitions
1.1.1. Serious Game
The notion of serious gaming was introduced by Abt [
], who established how simulation games
could be used for education, decision making and for public policy making. Since then, vast amount
of literature has been produced on this topic and its various application areas, including educational,
science, training, military, government, corporate, healthcare, water management, to name but a
few [
]. Similarly, various definition of a SG exists, but most agree that they are games used for
purposes other than mere entertainment. The SG approach offers potentially transformative capabilities to
strategic decision-support tools to provide better management of complex water systems compared to
purely technical simulation or optimisation methods that have difficulty in capturing the socio-technical
challenges of complex systems. The use of serious gaming in education and conflict resolution for
policy making is by far the most common in the available literature. As conflicts are often encountered
in water systems analysis, a definition of conflict resolution in the context of water systems decision
making is offered next.
1.1.2. Conflict Resolution
Conflicts often arise in relation to water systems planning and management due to multiple
economic, environmental and ecological objectives, as well as due to multitude of conflicting goals
and views held by multiple stakeholders. Gleick [
] shows that through history water has been
involved in conflict as: a political or military tool, a military target, an object of terrorism, part of
a development dispute, and an object of control. Lund and Palmer [
] indicate that examples of
these conflicts could include those between the early economic purposes of water development
(flood control, agricultural and urban water supply, hydropower, and navigation), newer economic
and social purposes (such as recreation and waste assimilation), and recent environmental objectives
(such as endangered species). Computer modelling has been used extensively in helping stakeholders
resolve various water related conflicts [
]. A concept of Shared Vision Planning [
], which entails
engaging stakeholders in developing and experimenting with interactive simulation models, has been
an effective way of building consensus—a shared vision.
1.1.3. Shared Vision Planning
Palmer et al. [
] define shared vision planning (SVP) as a disciplined planning approach that
combines traditional water resources planning methodologies with innovations such as structured
public participation and the use of collaborative modelling, resulting in a more complete understanding
and an integrative decision support tool. The SVP approach was developed over the years through a
number of studies focusing on water systems policy planning and evaluation [
]. Two illustrative
Water 2016,8, 456 3 of 17
examples of these include the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River SVP Study [
], and the USA National
Drought Study SVP Application [
]. It will be shown later that ideas of SVP have been used in a few
SG implementations where conflict resolution among different stakeholders is sought.
1.2. Objectives
The objectives of this paper are to: (i) carry out a survey of published work on gaming simulation
and in particular on illustrative applications of Serious Gaming to water systems planning and
management; (ii) identify the principal criteria for the classification of SG for water related applications;
and (iii) provide an illustrative example of a Serious Game developed for water distribution system
analysis, design and evaluation. These are complementary objectives aimed at informing the reader of
the breadth of SG applications, synthesizing their main characteristics and providing an illustration of
a new SG application in an area of water resources planning and management that has been missing
in the SG literature.
The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. Section 2presents an introduction to Serious
Games for water systems planning and management. Section 3presents a brief review of Serious
Games for water applications and the following Section 4introduces our proposed classification criteria
towards a taxonomy for Water Serious Games. In Section 5, a Serious Game for Water Distribution
System Analysis, Design and Evaluation (SeGWADE) is described. Finally, in Section 6, conclusions
are drawn and directions for future work are suggested.
2. Serious Games in Water Systems Planning and Management
A number of serious games for water systems planning and management have been reported
in the literature or can be found online (e.g., [
]). This section reviews the representative work
developed in this area, focusing on the main characteristics, which will lead to the development of
classification criteria adopted later in this paper. The selected SG applications illustrate the breadth
of water management subjects addressed and implementation approaches taken, provide examples
of best practice and equally limitations of SG implementations, with a view of informing future SG
application development and implementation.
Although not specifically developed with water systems management in mind, the SimCity
video game series deals with city-building/urban planning decisions and incorporates elements of
the urban water cycle into the game. SimCity
is a game based on simulation of complex natural,
technical and social systems and shares characteristics with Cellular Automata [
] and agent-based
modelling [
]. The game represents water supply, treatment and distribution within the city with
groundwater as the sole and unlimited source of water. D’Artista and Hellweger [
] criticised the
limited representation of the urban hydrologic cycle, giving an example of groundwater pollution
having unrealistically short response time. They further state that the functional relation of the
various components is also unrealistic, e.g., there is no functional connection between water tower
(elevated reservoir) and pump. Gaberdan et al. [
] also point out that the game has a very limited use
for the special purpose of urban water management. They go on to propose how SimCity
and its
simulation engine GlassBox can be extended to include the most important processes of natural urban
stormwater management.
A serious game project called Aqua Republica [
], where a virtual world allows participants
to develop a river basin and visualise the consequences of their decisions, has been developed by
]. The aim of the game is to: (1) promote sustainable water resources management by sharing
knowledge; (2) raise awareness; and (3) build capacity in some of the most critical issues in water
resources management. Aqua Republica combines a game layer with a simulation model, MIKE
Hydro Basin [
], for players to experience a role of a manager of an undeveloped river catchment.
Chew et al. [
] present a tailored version of the online game for the pilot site in the Middle Olifants
region in South Africa. The game starts with the watershed under a hypothetical scenario in year 2000,
which implies a certain population, funds, food, energy and an unhealthy ecosystem. During each
Water 2016,8, 456 4 of 17
turn, the player has the possibility to make changes in the basin area, while trying to achieve a high
basin sustainability score, which is evaluated using the simulation model. While the original Aqua
Republica is played over 20 rounds, this version is reduced to 13 rounds to allow enough time for
training, but also not to fatigue the participants unduly. The participants included a broad background
of specialisation within the fields of water supply, ecology, mining and other industries, local, national
and international politics and economy. Although the game has a sophisticated visual interface, it was
not seen as a decision-making tool, but an educational aid for capacity building and complexity
assessment. The feedback from the participants indicated that the game was not completely intuitive
and players needed a few rounds to understand its concept.
Another example of a Serious Game implementation of a fictitious game, but being used for
capacity building for transboundary cooperation relating to a real case study, has been given in [
The result is the Shariva (Shared River) game aimed at addressing the flood management and
mitigation programme of the Mekong River Commission. The game was designed to create awareness
and to upgrade knowledge amongst stakeholders and in developing procedures for cooperation in
transboundary river basins. The Shariva game is introduced over three workshops (including the
introduction to the problem and flood risk management, transboundary water conflict management
and water governance, and technical tools to address transboundary issues, respectively). The actual
game playing followed after that and involved a total of 28 riparian professionals from Cambodia (6),
Lao PDR (7), Thailand (7) and Vietnam (8) coming both from government and non-government
institutions. A hydrodynamic simulation model was used to assess the consequences (damage) of
various transboundary policy implementations. The outcomes of the game were assessed with respect
to two objectives: (1) creating awareness and upgrading knowledge; and (2) the design and review
of procedures for addressing and resolving transboundary issues. The first one was assessed using
before and after questionnaires, whereas the second one was evaluated using a SWOT (Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The results of the questionnaires showed varied
levels of increase in knowledge gained and skills acquired across a number of areas, while the SWOT
analysis showed that the key strength of the game is that it can support cooperation aimed at conflict
resolution, while the main weakness is considered the amount of time needed to play.
Valkering et al. [
] and Van der Wal et al. [
] use a simulation game as a tool to explore possible
future river management dynamics in the Netherlands with a view for developing and assessing
policy-relevant climate adaptation pathways. The game deals with a virtual river stretch, representative
of many low-lying river stretches in the Rhine delta of the Netherlands. Multiple players are assigned
to two stakeholder teams (coalitions) with each team in general agreement among their perspectives
on water management. The participants involved in game playing are Dutch water managers and/or
academics and takes between two and four hours to play with both problem solving (i.e., minimising
negative impacts) and relational aspects (e.g., interaction with other players, consensus building)
present in the game. The goal of the game is to manage their river in a sustainable way, which is
evaluated via impacts on flooding, drought, nature development and shipping objectives over a period
of 10 to 20 years. These objectives are often in conflict with each other, i.e., in attempting to achieve
one objective, another objective has to be sacrificed, which requires a conflict resolution approach.
The players have a number of common interventions at their disposal ranging from infrastructure
enhancements (e.g., dyke broadening, dyke elevation, and river widening), through organisational
interventions (e.g., upstream cooperation to reduce peak flows) to flood adaptation (e.g., the flood alarm
system enhancements and flood resistant building). The impacts are evaluated using an integrated
assessment meta-model based on simple cause-effect relations and response curves [
] considering
future climate change and socio-economic development scenarios for the area. The results seem to be
presented to the teams by the facilitators. Valkering et al. [
] conclude that based on the analysis of
results, it is possible to identify opportunities, no-regret strategies, dead ends and timing of strategy,
all of which can be used by policy makers to develop water management roadmaps into the future.
It is also interesting to note that the developers introduced an element of surprise into the game by
Water 2016,8, 456 5 of 17
providing newspaper headlines (portraying generally unforeseen yet plausible contextual events) and
unpredictable occurrence of extremely high or low flows. Van der Wal et al. [
] report that a total of
12 game sessions have been successfully completed.
Stefanska et al. [
] present a similar game for river floodplain management, which is based on the
river Tisza reaches, in Hungary. The main differences between this and the game by Valkering et al. [
are: (i) that there are different roles played by participants (e.g., farmers, local authorities and
water authorities) with different spatial influence (of their decisions) and often conflicting objectives
(e.g., protection of biodiversity, maximisation of profit and economic efficiency) requiring a conflict
resolution strategy; (ii) that in addition to facilitators, there are observers associated with each team
of players; and (iii) both a physical game board (showing the river and land parcels at different
elevations, which are assigned various types of farming activities, e.g., crop cultivation, animal
husbandry, orchard, etc.) and a simple stylised model defining critical relationships and processes are
used. The game is played over 6–12 periods (referred to in the game as “years”), in which players test
their strategies for their short-term and long-term consequences. The participants involved in game
playing ranged from students and academics, through water managers local authorities, to NGOs and
professionals. Stefanska et al. [
] report that a total of eight game sessions have been completed in
four countries. They conclude that in nearly all the games examined, players failed to organise the
process that would allow all actors to express their needs and objectives so that other players would
recognise and accommodate them in a common management policy. The authors argue that the failure
to take part in a successful problem-solving process is not surprising given the complexity of the
problem and limited time for playing the game.
Seibert and Vis [
] present a web-based multi-player game Irrigania, which aims to represent
water conflicts among farmers in a simplified way. The game is education-oriented and targeted at class
teaching. The game involves a number of villages with farms and farm owners cultivating 10 fields.
The players take on the role of individual farmers. The goal for each farmer is to generate the largest net
income by choosing the type of irrigation for their fields, i.e., rainfed, river or groundwater irrigation.
A simple numerical model is used to calculate the level of resources and income after each round (year)
of play. Each game is played over 15 rounds. A simple (numerical) user interface is available, which
accesses the database where results for the current year status for the villages and individual farmers
can be retrieved and viewed. The authors show how several variants of the game can be played in
class by allowing or restricting cooperation among players (students know/don’t know who the other
farmers in the village are) and sharing complete or incomplete information (students know/don’t
know the cost and profit system). The authors conclude that despite its simplicity, the game allows
interesting patterns to evolve when played in the class.
An interactive learning environment (ILE), WATERSTORY [
] is an example of a digital
multi-player game used to provide various stakeholders with opportunities to explore water supply
and demand management options on Maui Island. During the game, stakeholders from different
fields, including water professionals, experts, businesses, agriculture workers, large landowners,
conservation groups, instream flow advocates and the County of Maui, discuss and implement
various policy options to analyse their economic, social and environmental impacts across sectors.
The System Dynamics model, which uses precipitation as the main inflow for both the surface water
and groundwater stocks, is developed to provide information on performance of implemented policies
and help resolve any potential conflicts. An interesting feature of the ILE is that it allows players
to analyse relationships built into the model and thus increase their understanding of the complex
system. This approach is fully compatible with SVP, as it combines traditional water resources
planning methodologies (a System Dynamics model) with structured public participation and the use
of collaborative modelling (e.g., analysis of relationships built into the model), resulting in a more
complete understanding and an integrative decision support tool [
]. The ILE provides two options:
simple and advanced simulation modes, which proved useful in addressing audiences with different
levels of technical expertise. The authors believe that the ILE succeeded in providing a cohesive and
Water 2016,8, 456 6 of 17
stimulating environment in which local stakeholders and the community could explore options and
possibly achieve a consensus on current water issues by testing and evaluating the impacts of proposed
policies and regulations [31].
Rijcken et al. [
] present a concept design of SimDelta, a framework for an Internet-based
interactive simulation model to support decision making for the Dutch Delta Programme [
The focus is on the Rhine-Meuse river delta and policy making for flood protection and fresh
water supply. The framework involves the development and use of online interactive maps and
elements of Serious Gaming to provide Delta Programme stakeholders with insight into the interaction
between scenarios, problems and solutions. The authors indicate that a new Delta Model is being
developed, with the aim of streamlining existing technical models, connecting different regional
models, nesting models of various scales, developing new parts and setting up a data validation
procedure. Furthermore, the idea is to use the Internet to more frequently and efficiently present
conceptual designs by experts (architects and engineers) to the stakeholders, record their preferences
and “crowdsource” corrections, improvements and ideas. All of these elements are clearly aligned with
the SVP principles of modelling, structured public participation and more complete understanding
of a complex water resources problem. A Serious Game is just an element of a much more complex
system being developed. Although the authors state that SimDelta has seven out of nine characteristics
of Serious Games, in its present state [
] it does not allow various users to interact with each other
and there is no indication of the game being actually played and the outcomes of those exercises.
Hill et al. [
] present another collaborative decision-making game aimed at supporting drought
preparedness. The Invitational Drought Tournament (IDT) game is played on one of the two river
basins that are based on real-world data, but are presented as fictitious in the game to reduce
sensitivities. The game is played over the course of a day and has been tested with a number of
different participants, ranging from graduate students to water managers and water stakeholders.
The game consists of three to four rounds, each representing a drought scenario via climate data
(e.g., streamflow, snowpack, precipitation, temperature and water demand), as well as social, economic
and environmental impacts. The participants have a number of management options to develop
a management plan that is presented to the other teams and referees, who vote for the plan that
best reduces environmental, economic and social drought impacts on the river basin. Over time the
tournament has evolved to use more objective scoring methods as Wang and Davies [
] report on the
System Dynamics model specifically developed for the IDT game to allow easier scoring. The authors
indicate that the IDT framework and model helped participants to: (1) understand better complex
water resources systems and the trade-offs among conflicting objectives that result from policy choices;
(2) improve their understanding of other stakeholders’ positions; and (3) interact with one another,
prioritise management options and potentially build consensus [35].
A similar approach was also adopted by Rusca et al. [
] in their Ravilla simulation game, whose
main aim was to encourage learning about water management on the case study of the fictitious Ra
Basin. The game is played by UNESCO-IHE students and consists of four phases: (1) situation analysis
(data presented to participants); (2) management option selection; (3) simulation model application;
and (4) analysis of results and the preparation for the consecutive rounds of the game. Interestingly,
the authors also posit a suggestion about the use of computers in the game that is not shared by
other water management and game proponents. They state that, although the computer-based model
plays an important role in translating decisions by the players to consequences, the model should not
become the focal point of the game and the use of the computer should be limited to a minimum [
Therefore, in the Ravilla game, the use of the computer to run the model is limited to the facilitator.
The above references show that Serious Games have been applied to the water sector,
demonstrating that they are valuable tools for making various stakeholders aware of the
socio-techno-economic issues related to managing complex water systems. The increasing number
of references appearing in the last five years also indicates that Serious Games are something water
researchers and practitioners are becoming aware of and are starting to embrace. Although the number
Water 2016,8, 456 7 of 17
of potential SG applications that can be included in the survey is large, we have limited ourselves to the
references that have appeared in scientific/professional literature and provide enough detail for further
analysis. In the following section, a set of classification criteria is presented to better characterise
the type and main features of the reviewed games and provide a structure for the critical analysis of
SG applications. Although not all classification information was available in the each of the selected
references, the main criteria are clearly distinguishable.
3. Toward Classification of Serious Games for Water Applications
Based on the selected literature analysis, the following are the main criteria for the classification
of Serious Games for the water sector applications:
“Application area” is the water system domain to which a game can be applied. A number
of application domains can be identified but, broadly, two can be distinguished: (1) river basin
management; and (2) urban water management. By far, most Serious Game applications are devoted
to river basin (or parts of it) management, including integrated water resource management, irrigation,
flooding, droughts and/or transboundary issues with or without climate change and socio-economic
development scenarios being considered [
]. On the other hand, urban water
management is not a domain studied in many games, which may be an opportunity for further
development [
], e.g., introducing better representation of the water cycle, involving policy decisions
on the balance between green and grey infrastructure, the impact of urban creep on flood risk in urban
areas, water resource management in cities of the future, to name but a few.
“Goal of the game” is the primary aim or outcome of the game. Quite a few of the games reviewed
do not have a specific goal to achieve, but aim for the players to develop knowledge and skills, raise
awareness of complex issues in water management and develop a collaborative atmosphere for various
stakeholders to participate in the decision making process and develop a shared vision of the problem
being considered [
]. However, some games like Irrigania [
] have a specific goal, e.g.,
for each player (farmer) to generate the largest net income, or in the Invitational Drought Tournament,
where goals are set by an expert technical committee, to come as close as possible to the management
goals [34].
“Initialisation of the game” is related to how the game starts and how the players are introduced
to the problem at hand. Some games do not require any facilitators, as from the start the players are
learning by playing, e.g., SimCity
. However, a majority of complex games require facilitation at the
beginning or throughout the entire process [
], while some of them require elaborate
introductory workshops to explain the problem [
]. The progress of the game can be influenced by
the workshops and the involvement of facilitators, who can engage simply by running the models
used to assess a solution proposed by players [
], or even act as “referees”, who can answer questions
about management strategies or game rules and assist with scoring at the end of the game [34].
“Number and type of players” is the number of stakeholders playing the game. Multi-player
games are more common, which is understandable considering the application area usually involves a
river basin or parts of it where a number of stakeholders exist. This also means that players can take a
different role to play and are usually collocated while required to cooperate or compete to achieve the
goal(s) of the game [
]. Facilitators can also be involved in the game by providing technical
support or another player’s perspective, e.g., the citizen perspective is played by a project-team
member in [
]. Single player games are less common [
], although many of the multi-player
games can be and are easily played in a single-player mode by the players agreeing on the course of
action and implementing it. As for the type of players involved, Serious Games could be aimed at
a number of stakeholders from different fields, depending on the problem and the aim of the game.
These stakeholders may include water professionals, experts, businesses, agriculture workers, large
landowners, conservation groups, instream flow advocates, undergraduate or postgraduate students
and academics.
Water 2016,8, 456 8 of 17
“User interface” is the interface used in the game. Games can be board-based, computer-based
or can use a combination of a physical board and a simulation tool with an appropriate Graphical
User Interface, e.g., Stefanska et al. [
]. Entirely board-based games are rare nowadays as increasingly
computer simulation plays a significant role in serious games for water applications. However,
the majority of the games analysed here use simulation tools with facilitators, who are required
to present the results of the decisions, to help guide participants in understanding the simulation
tool outputs and the game objectives, or to judge the outcome of the game [
]. Some of the
interfaces are basic, providing only numerical/tabular output to the players [
], whilst some
provide a slider/selection buttons for input/actions, and/or behaviour-over-time graphs to compare
performance against a benchmark [
]. A Geographic Information System representation of the
space or simplified spatial maps, has also been proposed [
]. It is interesting to note that very few
game interfaces take advantage of sophisticated 3D video technology readily available in the videos
game industry [24].
“Simulation model used” is a technical tool used to assess and present players with
consequences/outcomes of their decisions. The types of tools used for simulation vary markedly from
game to game. Some of them rely on Cellular Automata-like rules to represent the dynamics of the
game, while the water system is represented as a set of simple functional relationships [
]. At the
other end of the complexity spectrum, some games use off-the-shelf professional simulation tools, such
as the water allocation model MIKE HYDRO Basin [
], to provide outputs and inform the players
about the consequences of their decisions [
] or a number of individual models linked together into
the Delta Model [
]. Other research-type tools (e.g., hydrodynamic simulation or System Dynamics
models) can also be used [
]. This often requires that facilitators record the decisions by the
players, input them into the model and feedback the results [
]. The development of the model offers
the opportunity for shared-vision modelling and even further, the opportunity for stakeholders to
contribute to the model-building process [31].
“Realism of the game” is the level of simplification of the socio-technical-environmental system is
included. Most games are implemented as a simplification of reality to avoid real-life sensitivities or to
make it easier to understand the complexity of the system being analysed, whilst still representing
some real world issues [25,26,29,30,3436]. Some of the games allow the user to influence the level of
simplification [31].
“Performance feedback” is related to the capability to provide continuous feedback on the player’s
performance in the game. This can be instant [
] or may require an intermediary/facilitator to perform
evaluation and provide feedback [24,26,29,36].
“Progress monitoring” is the capability of saving intermediate game results for follow up analysis.
This is not often addressed by the developers of Serious Games for water system problems. However,
this feature can be crucial in assessing the performance and knowledge acquisition of the players.
“Game portability” relates to whether the game is played on-line or off-line and whether it can be
played outside the controlled/supervised environment. Off-line games are more common as they do
not require complex server handling or the need to accommodate several players playing the same
game [
]. Irrigania [
] is one of the few games that are available on-line and can be
accessed by anybody who registers with the website provided by the authors. The SimDelta model is
also envisaged to be used on-line [10].
The analysis of selected literature shows that, by far, the majority of game applications in the water
sector deal with river basin management, allowing complex problems to be analysed in a protected and
controlled game environment. Most of the game applications are highly simplified and address conflict
resolution among large numbers of stakeholders, but require facilitation by technical experts. The user
interfaces are often rudimentary (e.g., behaviour-over-time graphs) providing only limited feedback
to the players and do not take advantage of the sophisticated 3D visualisation technology readily
available in the video games industry. None of the games analysed indicate whether intermediate
steps performed by the players are saved for the analysis of problem-solving strategies. Finally, none
Water 2016,8, 456 9 of 17
of the above games are aimed at the technical design of water infrastructure. The following section
describes an attempt to address some of the apparent omissions in the games for the water sector by
developing a game for water distribution system analysis, design and evaluation.
4. A Serious Game for WDS Analysis, Design & Evaluation: SeGWADE
Drinking Water Distribution Systems (WDS) are designed to deliver water from a source to users
in the required quantity, quality and at satisfactory pressure. WDS are complex, spatially organised
systems consisting of numerous interconnected assets (e.g., pipes, valves, pumps, reservoirs), which
are arranged in nontrivial configurations and interact in complex ways due to the non-linear nature
of water flow governing equations [
]. Due to the complexity of WDS design and operational
issues, advanced computation and instrumentation tools are needed to improve a water manager’s
ability to effectively manage distribution systems. These computational advancements include
the development of modelling tools that can simulate the hydraulic behaviour of WDS, such as
]. While simulation allows trial-and-error approaches to be used in finding a preferred
design or operational interventions, optimization can provide an automated way of finding efficient
solutions to a particular WDS problem. For example, the topological design and layout of a WDS
can be optimized with a view to minimizing the cost of a layout [
] whilst meeting some minimum
design constraint, such as the provision of sufficient pressure at each demand node. The SeGWADE
(Serious Game for WDS Analysis, Design and Evaluation) game explores the use of simulation in the
context of solving a WDS problem and is described using the aforementioned classification criteria.
Application area: The game deals with the rehabilitation of an existing WDS by the optional
installation of duplicate pipes in order to alleviate a pressure deficiency.
Goal of the game: The game has a specific goal, which is for the player to find a solution that
minimizes the cost of duplicated pipes and satisfy the minimum pressure criterion. The lower is the
cost of the solution, the better it is.
Number and type of players: This is a single-player game, although multiple players can play
it at the same time. Apart from the elements of gamification (e.g., a leader board), the players do
not need to communicate with each other in order to reach a solution. The game is initially aimed at
postgraduate-level engineering students.
User interface: The user interface is accessed via the web-browser and is thus compatible with a
variety of platforms (e.g., Windows, Linux, iOS and Android). It takes advantage of sophisticated video
technology to allow animation, fully interactive manipulation and aesthetically pleasing immersive
3D visualisation (Figures 1and 2). Users having access to WebGL [
] capabilities can switch between
a medium and a high graphic detail mode which is better able to scale in size for rendering large
networks. In order to accommodate the gamut of hardware capability that might be experienced
on diverse target platforms, the graphic rendering is designed to fall-back to HTML5 Canvas [
technology in the event that WebGL rendering is unavailable.
Simulation model used: The game uses a hydraulic simulation engine based on EPANET [
with the added ability to simulate pressure dependent demands [
]. Adopting a pressure-driven
model allows more meaningful results to be shown to the user in the event of a pressure-deficient
solution being proposed.
Realism of the game: As with all other games, a level of simplification is necessary to study WDS.
In this particular example, the case study involves network rehabilitation considering only duplication
of individual pipes. However, it is possible using the developed game to manipulate pumps, valves
and other system components in a similar fashion. Similarly, the game engine allows other type of
WDS problems to be analysed, such as water quality issues [
], pump operations [
], leakage [
and calibration [47], according to the needs of the game.
Performance feedback: The game is designed to provide continuous and instant feedback on the
player’s performance in the game. When the user changes one or a number of elements and is happy
with the configuration of the network then a “Compute New Results” button (Figure 2) is engaged.
Water 2016,8, 456 10 of 17
This runs the modified configuration on the server-side hydraulic solver, returns the simulation results
and saves that solution under the game history in the game database.
Progress monitoring: The game engine saves all the intermediate game results (for each “Compute
New Results” action) in the game database for the follow up analysis. This feature is crucial in assessing
the performance toward the best solution and knowledge acquisition and skills of the players.
Game portability: The game is played on-line, but it can also be installed on an individual
computer to be played outside the controlled/supervised environment.
Figure 1.
The SeGWADE 3D interface showing the network and an information box (showing deficient
pressure at a node).
Figure 2.
The SeGWADE 3D interface showing a diameter selection wheel with the associate
information box for a selected pipe (highlighted in green).
Water 2016,8, 456 11 of 17
5. Case Study
5.1. Problem Description and Formulation
The “New York Tunnels” problem, which was introduced by Schaake and Lai [
] as an illustration
of a large-scale optimization problem for the reinforcement of the water supply for New York City,
is used as a case study. The tunnels/pipes are of large diameter, ranging from 60 inches (1.5 m) to
204 inches (5.2 m). The game starts with the network that is pressure deficient in five nodes (red/orange
coloured nodes in Figure 1). In order to solve this problem, each of the 21 pipes in the network can
be duplicated with one of 15 commercially available pipe diameters or left as it is (i.e., no new pipe,
which is a possible option 16). Despite the apparent simplicity of the problem, this gives a solution
space of 16
= 1.93
possible network designs, which is far too many to be checked exhaustively
for insufficient pressure, despite the advances of computer power since 1969.
Despite larger networks being used in recent literature, this system has become a favourite
benchmark for WDS optimization applications. From the original solution in Schaake and Lai [
] of
$78.1M, the best known solution for the problem has been advanced by, among others, Morgan and
Goulter [
] (1985—$39.23M) and Simpson et al. [
] (1993—$38.81M). Savic and Walters [
] used the
problem to illustrate the sensitivity of such optimization problems to small changes in the coefficients
used in calculating the frictional losses observed in the system, demonstrating solutions ranging from
$37.14M to $40.45M. The best-known feasible solution (using the latest EPANET software version) of
$38.64M was obtained using the Ant Colony Simulation approach of Maier et al. [51].
The optimization problem is formulated as:
Minimize Cin f =fD1, . . . , DNl=Nl
Subject to:
HiHi,min,i=1, . . . , Nn
DjD(j=1, . . . , Nd)
where C
is the total cost to be minimized, N
is the number of pipes in the system for which
duplication is an option, C(D
) is the cost (in US dollars) of the jth pipe duplicated with diameter
(in inches—chosen from a discrete set of available diameters, D) and length L
(in feet). H
is the
pressure head at node i(as computed by the hydraulic solver), H
is the minimum pressure head
requirement sufficient to fully satisfy the demand at node iand N
is the number of nodes in the
network. Ndis the number of decision variables in the optimization.
The WDS consists of two loops and two branches supplied by gravity from a single, fixed-head
reservoir. At the start of the game, nodes 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 fall below the required minimum
pressures (shown in red/orange colours relative to the extent of deficiency in Figure 1). The figure
illustrates how the network is rendered during the game, with the blue (dark) coloured pipes
representing the existing topology of the network with the relative diameters of the pipes clearly
visible. The curved pipes represent the duplicate pipes that may be optionally installed in parallel to
each of the existing pipes. When no pipe diameter is selected (using the selection wheel in Figure 2)
for one of these pipes it is rendered in red and is considered closed in the hydraulic model, whereas
green pipes represent open, duplicated pipes. The node representations are colour coded to visually
highlight whether they are pressure deficient or not. Nodes shown in green have sufficient pressure,
whereas those shaded orange to red are those exhibiting increasing levels of pressure deficiency.
Water 2016,8, 456 12 of 17
5.2. Criteria for Game Evaluation
An obvious way of evaluating the success of the SeGWADE game is to assess how closely
players can get to the best solutions found by competent optimization algorithms. Therefore, the first
measurable indicator would be how close a player can get to the best solution reported in the literature,
i.e., $38.64M. Although the additional criteria for judging the success of the game, which include a
measure of engagement and the level of knowledge gained by the players throughout the game, could
be argued to be even more important, they are, equally, more difficult to measure. In our particular
example, the engagement is judged by the number of solutions a player has attempted in the game.
Although this is a clearly measurable indicator and it can indicate that well-engaged players get closer
to the best solutions found, it has its own disadvantages, as some players could achieve a good solution
in a small number of attempts. In addition to achieving a good solution, which provides an indication
of knowledge gained in the game, the measure of how much the players have learned will be assessed
qualitatively using the knowledge of the decisions (pipe diameters) implemented in the optimized
solution [51].
5.3. Results
The game was played by a class of 20 MSc students at UNESCO-IHE (Delft, The Netherlands)
during one continuous session in June 2016 Figure 3shows the number of changes made by each of the
players and the highest scores they achieved in comparison to the best solution found in the literature
($38.64M—the horizontal dotted red line—note the inverse order axes for the WDS costs). It can be
seen that engagement was good, with the majority of students attempting over 100 evaluations of the
system and half of them making over 200 changes. From the number of changes attempted within a
4-h long exercise, it is clear that the game maintained the interest of the players. It is also interesting
to note that 15 out of 20 players found a solution that was better than $45M. Only two players have
not managed to find a feasible solution to the problem (#1 and #13), i.e., a solution that satisfies all
minimum pressure requirements.
Figure 3.
Number of changes made (bar chart) and the best cost attained (red circles) for each of the
20 players.
Figure 4shows the dynamic performance of the players as the game progressed in terms of their
proximity to the best known solution cost of $38.64M. The three colour lines in this figure represent
Water 2016,8, 456 13 of 17
the three highest scoring players in the game (#10, #15 and #19), while the grey lines represent other
17 participants. The majority of players converged upon solutions under $70M after making few
attempts (i.e., all achieved this in under 50 moves) with most eventually going on to identify solutions
better than $45M. Initially, the players opted to start from the most expensive ($290M) and fully
compliant solution with all of the duplicate pipes installed, which is indicated by the progress lines
touching the bottom of the graph in early attempts. However, it is clear that the players quickly
identified that the optimal solution lay closer to the other extent of the problem (i.e., with none of the
pipes duplicated) and proceeded to investigate the problem from that starting point. This is evident in
the number of solutions oscillating around the best solution ($38.6M), which requires only six pipes to
be duplicated.
Figure 4. Convergence of players towards the optimal solution.
6. Conclusions and Future Directions
This paper provides a number of novel research contributions, namely: (i) a critical
analysis of representative SG applications to various water resources analysis and management
problems (e.g., flooding, droughts, irrigation, drinking water supply, hydropower, and navigation);
(ii) a classification of SG applications in these water management areas, which provides an insight
into past research applications and points to future challenges for the research community; and (iii)
a new application of SG in water distribution analysis, which is a major area of research and illustrates
the complexity of the design/rehab problem for a water distribution system. The Serious Game
application presented in the paper also illustrates how a visually-rich hydroinformatics application
with an intuitive user interface can help even non-experts (students, in this case) approach a solution to
the problem only previously achieved by experts employing sophisticated optimisation tools. Each of
these contributions is addressed individually in the following.
The paper reviews the application of Serious Game technology in the water sectors and identifies
a number of avenues for improvement. Most game applications in the water sector are primarily
educational and deal mostly with river basin management issues (integrated water management),
allowing complex problems to be analysed without a specific goal/outcome being identified. The level
of simplification in the games is quite high with the aim of informing stakeholders of the complexity
of the problem, allowing stakeholders to find ways to resolve conflicts and collaborate in assessing
consequences of various policies under the eye of a facilitator (often technical experts). Despite the
indication that attention is paid to user interfaces, their visual appeal and functionality, they are
basic, e.g., providing behaviour-over-time graphs, whilst not taking advantage of sophisticated 3D
visualisation technology readily available in the video games industry. There is also a need to have
access to stored intermediate steps performed by the players during the game to allow analysis of
Water 2016,8, 456 14 of 17
problem-solving strategies. Finally, none of the above reviewed games are aimed at the technical
design of water infrastructure, which is often one of the key tasks in water engineering practice.
A conceptually simple, but computationally elaborate game for water distribution system analysis,
design and evaluation is presented in this paper. It has a main goal of finding a least-cost design for
a well-known benchmark problem, for which the game environment takes the computational and
visualisation burden away from the simulation tool and the player. The game deals with a clearly
technical problem, which is a simpler issue to deal with than, for example, river basin management
problems where socio-techno-economic complexities dominate. However, the problem is technically
complex and require a great deal of expertise and skills to solve. The game engine and user interface
are based on the open-source principles (the code is hosted on GITHub [
]) and provide animation,
fully interactive manipulation, aesthetically pleasing immersive 3D visualisation and a database
facility to record player performance during the game. This application is new and provides a
new, active and personalised way of solving water engineering problems within an immersive and
motivating environment capable of providing immediate feedback. Through applications of SG
such as this, decision makers can learn about the complexity of the water distribution system design
problem, experiment safely using a computer model of a real system, understand conflicting objectives
(i.e., minimization of cost and satisfaction of minimum pressure) and develop strategies for coping
with complexity without being burdened by the limitations of the ICT technology at their disposal.
The game has an obvious limitation in that it addresses only one of the possible plethora
of WDSA problems, i.e., the design of a system. However, it is easily extensible and scalable to
involve other WDSA design and operational problems, e.g., water quality issues, pump operations,
leakage management and model calibration, and larger networks. Another limitation is that the
game is currently only available as a single-player version, which cannot represent fairly various
stakeholder aspects, such as for example, the views of a leakage manager vs. that of an asset manager.
A multi-player version of the game is currently being developed to address this limitation. It is
envisaged that further development could involve multiple objectives and will be undertaken by teams
who will be competing in their own right and simultaneously collaborating within teams by allocating
different roles to the players on each team such that they represent different stakeholders and have
different priorities in terms of the objectives and how they might be achieved.
The SeGWADE game has been evaluated in a classroom environment in which a high degree of
player engagement with the game was observed, due to its basic game ingredients and activities, i.e.,
challenge, play and fun. In addition, a clear improvement in learning has been observed in how players
attempted to identify solutions that satisfy the pressure criterion with players readily identifying the
proximity of the better solutions to the starting, infeasible configuration.
However, despite the strong belief in the potential of Serious Gaming for the water sector
demonstrated by the number of publications in this area appearing over the last five years, there
are obvious limitations for their application to solving real water related problems. Apart from the
obvious, that they represent a simplified reality of the real world, the use of Serious Games can often
be hindered by practical constraints, such as hardware availability and the fact that they may exclude
people not used to computing and computers.
Further work can be done to militate against these limitations and to get this particular and other
Serious Games developed for the water sector ported to mobile devices as the potential to reach wider
audience is much larger due to ubiquitous nature of mobile phones and tablets. Serious Gaming for the
water sector is yet to benefit from Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality advancements. They are both
new, cutting edge technologies, where Virtual Reality is a computer-generated simulation of a real-life
situation or environment (typically achieved by wearing a 3D headset), while Augmented Reality
involves layering of computer-generated enhancements atop an existing environment or situation
in order to make it more meaningful through interaction. Both have a great potential for serious
gaming applications as water systems are complex and large, and do not allow experimentation with a
prototype, but only a virtual (computer) representation of it.
Water 2016,8, 456 15 of 17
The authors would like to acknowledge the funding provided by the UK Engineering and
Physical Sciences Research Council, grant EP/M018865/1 (The Nexus Game).
Author Contributions:
All authors have contributed to the writing of this paper by performing the review of
relevant literature. Dragan A. Savic developed the conceptual idea of a Serious Game for water distribution
system design and management, proposed the new classification of Serious Games for water management and
wrote the draft of the paper. Mark S. Morley and Mehdi Khoury developed the necessary software and performed
the analysis of the outputs of the game. All authors contributed to the editing of the paper as a whole and
its revisions.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC-BY) license (
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The depletion of aquifers by excessive pumping is one of the prominent global sustainability issues in the field of water resources. It is mainly caused by the water needs of irrigated agriculture. The North China Plain is a global hotspot of groundwater overexploitation. Since the 1980s, groundwater levels dropped by about 1 m/year mainly due to the intensification of agricultural production by a double cropping system of winter wheat and summer maize. The consequences of declining groundwater levels include the drying up of streams and wetlands, soil subsidence, seawater intrusion at the coast and rising cost of pumping. The depletion of storage makes the production systemmore vulnerablewith respect to climatic extremes associated with climate change. Sustainable management of aquifers keeps groundwater levels between an upper and a lower red line. While the upper red line is designed to prevent soli salinization, the lower red line is motivated by ecological requirements, water quality constraints or infrastructural concerns. Global water balances are useful in identifying the scope of the problem and the size of efforts required to restore a sustainable pumping regime. Adequate local action needs a local analysis. Guantao County is selected for such a local analysis in the North China Plain.
... related to Fig. 3.4 The "Save the Water" StW board game (Kato 2010), social morality (Katsarov et al. 2019) and, more recently, natural resources management, e.g. (Morley et al. 2017;Craven et al. 2017). Bots and van Daalen (2007) divide the possible functions of serious games for natural resource management in six categories, namely: (1) Research and analyse policy contexts as systems (game as a laboratory); (2) design and recommend alternative solutions to a policy problem (game as a design studio); (3) provide advice to a client on what strategy to follow in the policy process (game as a practice ring); (4) mediate between different stakeholders (game as a negotiation table); (5) democratize policy development by actively bridging stakeholder views (game as a consultative forum) and; 6) clarify values and arguments pertinent to the policy discourse (game as a parliament). ...
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Irrigation being the main cause of aquifer depletion, agriculture is the first candidate to contribute to its solution. Options of agricultural planting structure in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region are analyzed using various planting scenarios.
... Several nodes in an existing water distribution system do not reach a certain minimum service pressure; therefore, parallel pipes have to be added using diameters between 36 in (0.9 m) and 204 in (5.2 m). The network topology and the resulting different pipe lengths in combination with the chosen diameters lead to different costs that players should keep minimal, while still achieving the predefined minimum pressure at all nodes in the system [31][32][33]. SeGWADE's user interface presents itself similar to Aqualibrium's interface, also offering the possibility to save at any point and go back to a saved system variant. ...
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In this paper, we present a novel approach in water loss research combining two different topics: The optimal placement of pressure sensors to localize leaks in water distribution systems and Serious Gaming—games that are not only entertaining but that are also serving another purpose. The goal was to create a web interface, through which gamers could place sensors in a water distribution system model, in order to improve these sensor positions after they had been evaluated by a suitable algorithm. Two game objectives are to be pursued by the players: reaching a specified net coverage while not using more than a maximum number of sensors. For this purpose, an existing optimal sensor placement algorithm was extended and implemented, together with two hydraulic models taken from literature. The resulting Serious Game was then tested and rated in a case study. The results showed that human players are able to reach solutions that are similar regarding net coverage to those obtained by optimization, within in a short amount of time. Furthermore, it was shown that the implementation of the ideal sensor placement problem as a Serious Game motivates the players to get better and better results, while also providing them with an enjoyable gaming experience.
Water policy decision-making is hindered by limited involvement and understanding of the issues by the affected community members. This study demonstrates that implementing a serious game concept to explain Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) can improve a community’s knowledge and skill in water policy decision-making. The authors developed a tool called SEA Game and Simulation using the MIT App Inventor and participatory techniques. The developed tool was implemented among 39 community members in the East Coast River Basin of Thailand. Key findings indicated a significant improvement in the participants’ knowledge of SEA and skill in water policy decision-making. Results from implementing the tool were dependent on the background of the participants and the context of the events. Further studies related to developing sustainable measures from SEA in community sectors should be considered.
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Over the years, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of game-based interventions for behaviour change associated with many fields such as health, education, and psychology. This is due to the significance of the players’ intrinsic motivation that is naturally generated to play games and the substantial impact they can have on players. Many review papers measure the effectiveness of the use of gaming on changing behaviours; however, these studies neglect the game features involved in the game design process, which have an impact of stimulating behaviour change. Therefore, this paper aimed to identify game design mechanics and features that are reported to commonly influence behaviour change during and/or after the interventions. This paper identified key theories of behaviour change that inform the game design process, providing insights that can be adopted by game designers for informing considerations on the use of game features for moderating behaviour in their own games.
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With the increasing population growth of human beings, the world is being threatened by the water scarcity problem, causing insecurity in water accessibility. Therefore, a deliberated water management gains fatal importance. In addition, the awareness of the issue through education, specifically in the early ages, plays a crucial role in this path. This research considers the water issue of Istanbul in its content. However, regarding the target audience, which is the kids, it uses a novel approach to tackle the problem. The paper proposes a visually enriched and nonlinear, serious game for the children to teach them about the importance of water and its impact on the planet, specific to Istanbul. The game is inspired by National Geographic Turkey's documentary named 25 Liters: In Pursuit of Water, asking the players to survive in a drought situation in the future. It aims to change the kid's lifestyle to revive the country's in-danger future.
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El propósito de esta investigación documental, realizada con el método de la cartografía conceptual, fue hacer un estudio del término gamificación en el aprendizaje de la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas (CTIM). En total, se obtuvie- ron 287 textos, de los cuales se seleccionaron 39 documentos para revisión. Los ejes de análisis fueron: noción, categorización, caracterización, diferenciación, división, vinculación, metodología y ejemplificación. El resultado consistió en una sistematización del concepto gamificación y sus aspectos metodológicos para la enseñanza de las CTIM. El hallazgo principal fue una diferenciación entre gamificación, juegos educati- vos serios y aprendizaje basado en juegos. Lo anterior permitirá planificar estrategias educativas diferenciadas de acuerdo con objetivos de enseñanza específicos.
Real-life engineering problems relate to different technical aspects to be considered at the same time. Traditional teaching techniques for engineering students (i.e., future decision-makers for such problems) sometimes need to be supplemented to convey this complexity, and thus innovative approaches are needed. A new and useful approach allowing a more intuitive understanding of reallife problems is serious gaming (SG), which combines a game environment and utility functions to address real problems. This paper describes a first attempt to use SG to help engineering students learn and deal with the complexities of designing water distribution networks given multiple objectives and uncertainty. This application of SG relates to five benchmark water distribution networks, and students were asked to find the optimal value of pipe diameters to minimize the capital cost of pipes. The results of the experiment show that students learn in less time how to design water distribution networks while enjoying the experience. Most students found the approach useful, claiming that the difficulty in approaching the pipe sizing problem decreased considerably as the practice of the game increases. The results of the experiment suggest that SG may have value in learning how to design other engineering systems.
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In recent years simulations have become an important part of teaching activities. The reasons behind the popularity of simulation games are twofold. On the one hand, emerging theories on how people learn have called for an experienced-based learning approach. On the other hand, the demand for water management professionals has changed. Three important developments are having considerable consequences for water management programmes, which educate and train these professionals. These developments are the increasing emphasis on integration in water management, the characteristics and speed of reforms in the public sector and the shifting state-society relations in many countries. In response to these developments, demand from the labour market is oriented toward water professionals who need to have both a specialist in-depth knowledge in their own field, as well as the ability to understand and interact with other disciplines and interests. In this context, skills in negotiating, consensus building and working in teams are considered essential for all professionals. In this paper we argue that simulation games have an important role to play in (actively) educating students and training the new generation of water professionals to respond to the above-mentioned challenges. At the same time, simulations are not a panacea for learners and teachers. Challenges of using simulations games include the demands it places on the teacher. Setting up the simulation game, facilitating the delivery and ensuring that learning objectives are achieved requires considerable knowledge and experience as well as considerable time-inputs of the teacher. Moreover, simulation games usually incorporate a case-based learning model, which may neglect or underemphasize theories and conceptualization. For simulations to be effective they have to be embedded in this larger theoretical and conceptual framework. Simulations, therefore, complement rather than substitute traditional teaching methods.
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The meaningful participation of stakeholders in decision-making is now widely recognized as a crucial element of effective water resource management, particularly with regards to adapting to climate and environmental change. Social learning is increasingly being cited as an important component of engagement if meaningful participation is to be achieved. The exact definition of social learning is still a matter under debate, but is taken to be a process in which individuals experience a change in understanding that is brought about by social interaction. Social learning has been identified as particularly important in transboundary contexts, where it is necessary to reframe problems from a local to a basin-wide perspective. In this study, social learning is explored in the context of transboundary water resource management in the St. Lawrence River Basin. The overarching goal of this paper is to explore the potential role of serious games to improve social learning in the St. Lawrence River. To achieve this end, a two-pronged approach is followed: (1) Assessing whether social learning is currently occurring and identifying what the barriers to social learning are through interviews with the region's water resource managers; (2) Undertaking a literature review to understand the mechanisms through which serious games enhance social learning to understand which barriers serious games can break down. Interview questions were designed to explore the relevance of social learning in the St. Lawrence River basin context, and to identify the practices currently employed that impact on social learning. While examples of social learning that is occurring have been identified, preliminary results suggest that these examples are exceptions rather than the rule, and that on the whole, social learning is not occurring to its full potential. The literature review of serious games offers an assessment of such collaborative mechanisms in terms of design principles, modes of play, and their potential impact on social learning for transboundary watershed management. Serious game simulations provide new opportunities for multidirectional collaborative processes by bringing diverse stakeholders to the table, providing more equal access to a virtual negotiation or learning space to develop and share knowledge, integrating different knowledge domains, and providing opportunities to test and analyze the outcomes of novel management solutions. This paper concludes with a discussion of how serious games can address specific barriers and weaknesses to social learning in the transboundary watershed context of the St. Lawrence River Basin.
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We introduce a new system robustness index for optimizing the pump design and operation of water distribution systems. Here, robustness is defined as a system's ability to continue functioning under varying demand conditions. The maximum difference between the daily maximum and minimum pressures of a node was taken as a robustness indicator and incorporated as a constraint in a pump design and operation model that minimizes the total pump cost (construction and operation cost). Two well-known benchmark networks, the Apulian and Net2 networks, were modified and used to demonstrate the proposed model. The Pareto relationship between the total cost and system robustness was explored through independent optimizations of the model for different robustness constraint values. The resulting solutions were compared to the traditional least-cost solution. Regardless of the study networks, considering the robustness resulted in a greater number of small pumps compared with the least-cost solution. A sensitivity analysis on tank capacity was performed with the Apulian network. The proposed model is the pump design and operation tool that accounts for both the total pump cost and system robustness, which are the most important factors considered by water distribution operators.
The water distribution network design problem is to find the optimal set of investments in pipelines that are needed to satisfy water requirements. The strategy of this study has been first to define an optimality criterion for ranking alternative investment opportunities and then to formulate a mathematical programming model for solving the optimal investment problem. The least cost optimality criterion leads to a non-linear mathematical programming problem for which no computational methods exist that guarantee an optimal solution. Other existing techniques that yield "good" solutions are computationally inefficient. The strategy taken in this study has been to modify the least cost problem so that linear programming could be applied to achieve a solution to the modified form of the problem. Variables were transformed to linearize the non-linear terms in the pipe flow formula. In this way, the non-linear flow phenomenon is represented exactly. The resulting linear programming model may be used to determine the pipe diameters of pipes that must be added to the system to satisfy given sets of water requirements that are expected to occur at a given future time. Water requirements increase with increases in population and economic productivity. To meet these growing requirements, excess capacity must be provided. The problem of deciding how far into the future the system should be planned is known as a capacity expansion problem. The capacity expansion problem has been formulated as a dynamic programming problem and applied to the water distribution network expansion problem.
Particulate material accumulates over time as cohesive layers on internal pipeline surfaces in water distribution systems (WDS). When mobilised, this material can cause discolouration. This paper explores factors expected to be involved in this accumulation process. Two complementary machine learning methodologies are applied to significant amounts of real world field data from both a qualitative and a quantitative perspective. First, Kohonen self-organising maps were used for integrative and interpretative multivariate data mining of potential factors affecting accumulation. Second, evolutionary polynomial regression (EPR), a hybrid data-driven technique, was applied that combines genetic algorithms with numerical regression for developing easily interpretable mathematical model expressions. EPR was used to explore producing novel simple expressions to highlight important accumulation factors. Three case studies are presented: UK national and two Dutch local studies. The results highlight bulk water iron concentration, pipe material and looped network areas as key descriptive parameters for the UK study. At the local level, a significantly increased third data set allowed K-fold cross validation. The mean cross validation coefficient of determination was 0.945 for training data and 0.930 for testing data for an equation utilising amount of material mobilised and soil temperature for estimating daily regeneration rate. The approach shows promise for developing transferable expressions usable for pro-active WDS management.
Environmental sustainability is a complex problem in the very specific meaning of the word. With many dynamically interacting components in both natural and human dimensions, there are no concise descriptions or solutions to environmental sustainability problems. However, to better understand such problems, an agent-based simulation game of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed was developed. An underlying simulation model captures and represents the natural components of this largest estuary in the United States. Human (agent) behavior is captured through a "serious" game interface. The UVa Bay Game provides an experimental platform to advance the understanding of environmental sustainability in the university classroom as well as to enable policy-makers to discover and appreciate the unpredictable and often emergent consequences of their decision-making. The development of the UVa Bay Game is described and its current and planned use is outlined.
This chapter describes the biofilm formation and investigates the relationship between the amount of biofilm and the composition of the pipe material. Biofilm formation at the interface between a solid substratum and a liquid is a common phenomenon in natural, medical and industrial environments. The walls of the pipes in the water distribution systems provide ideal surfaces for the microbial colonization, and the biofilms formed cause a number of problems for the water companies. The attached cells represent the major fraction of biomass in a distribution system and contribute to the continuous contamination of the water phase because bacteria are sheared from the surfaces of the pipes. Several factors influence the biofilm development. Some of these factors are temperature, nutrients, disinfectant residuals, hydraulic regime, and the characteristics of the substratum. The microbial growth on materials gives rise to three categories of problems: those of public health significance, aesthetic problems and those causing detrimental effects on the water distribution network at a major cost to water companies. Bacterial growth in biofilms is a potential threat to health as it links to the increased bacterial counts in treated water and to gastrointestinal illnesses.