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The Projection Augmented Relief Model (PARM) technique has changed the way geographic information is communicated and understood by commercial, public, and voluntary sector organisations. As a result, JBA Consulting commissioned a PARM-based service for communicating flood risk that was adopted by the Environment Agency and used to manage public understanding of flood risk.



Interpreting maps can be challenging, and the way information is portrayed influences whether people can gain knowledge from a display and are able to act upon it.  



Since 2002, research by geographers at Nottingham has explored the effectiveness of a range of digital 3D representations of landscape for helping people understand spatial patterns, using technologies such as digital mapping, immersive 3D landscape visualisation and augmented reality.

The PARM technique emerged from a desire to exploit the power of traditional physical relief models for providing natural overviews of the landscape. The development and design for PARM began in 2012.



The research has led to the creation of new commercial services offered by Jeremy Benn Associates (JBA), an environmental engineering consultancy company, to better visualise flood risk as part of community consultation.

In October 2019, PARM was commissioned from JBA by the Environment Agency.

The research has changed the way that Keswick Museum engages the public with their collections. The team led the curation of an exhibition in 2015, ‘The Grandest Views’, based on their exploration of the power of physical relief models both past and present, which received approximately 5,000 visitors. The exhibition was feature on BBC TV’s Countryfile which brought PARM to a national and international audience.

The PARM technique has changed the way geographic information is visualised to students at the Field Studies Council (FSC) field centre at Blencathra, Cumbria. A teaching-oriented PARM was developed working with over 200 students at Keswick school. The experiences from the school were presented at the Geographical Association conference in April 2018, and led to PARM enhancing student learning on environmental landscapes at four other schools and the National Space Centre in Leicester.


More information

Institution: University of Nottingham 

Researcher: Dr Gary Priestnall


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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (date) Projection Augmented Relief Models. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>