When humanitarian workers embark on learning and dialogue for linking geoinformation to disaster management, the activities they confront are usually more difficult than interesting. How to accelerate the acquisition and deployment of skills and tools for spatial data collection and analysis, given the increasingly unmanageable workload of humanitarians? How to engage practitioners in experiencing the value and limitations of newly available tools? This paper offers an innovative approach to immerse disaster managers in geoinformation: participatory games that enable stakeholders to experience playable system dynamic models linking geoinformation, decisions and consequences in a way that is both serious and fun. A conceptual framework outlines the foundations of experiential learning through gameplay, with clear connections to a well-established risk management framework. Two case studies illustrate this approach: one involving flood management in the Zambezi river in southern Africa through the game UpRiver (in both physical and digital versions), and another pertaining to World Bank training on open data for resilience that combines applied improvisation activities with the need to understand and deploy software tools like Open Street Map and InaSAFE to manage school investments and schoolchildren evacuation in a simulated flood scenario for the city of La Plata, Argentina.
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