Posted on 06/16/2020 at 12:00 PM by Chuck Fox
City Planners Embrace Virtual Reality
When city planners prepare to take on new developments that change an important area of their city, they know that they must unveil project details to the public carefully and thoughtfully, anticipating expected questions and highlighting the benefits with clarity. It is easy for residents to jump to conclusions and quickly react to rumors with skepticism and immediate thoughts of what could go wrong. Depending on the scale and location of a particular development, this kind of change can be difficult, and for planners, it can be a long process to educate the public and get them on board with new plans.
To alleviate undue stress, city planners around the world are stepping into the future and turning to Virtual Reality (VR) to provide a realistic and compelling understanding of proposed developments before breaking ground.
For example, to portray how a proposed high-rise development near Victoria Park, a culturally and historically significant area in downtown London, Ontario, would look at human scale, local city planners turned to VR. They equipped seventy people with VR headsets featuring a model of Victoria Park surrounded by the proposed high-rise buildings, allowing them to take a virtual stroll through the park and see how the towers would look when built. Viewers were able to see how shadows would be cast on the park once the towers were erected, as well as how they would be seen from various vantage points. This virtual excursion was well received, and successfully conveyed a clear understanding of project outcomes.
Playing a Part in the Smart City Movement
This application of VR is one aspect of the growing trend of increasingly “smart” cities. With the help of a wide mix of modern technology solutions, including big data, artificial intelligence, IoT and the cloud, these cities aim is to provide improved citizen services and a better lifestyle to urban dwellers.
Smart cities incorporate sensors, cameras, and actuators while building new structures or infrastructures. They also focus on optimized use of space, making transportation easier, and reducing greenhouse emissions from buildings. All of these require extensive planning before the development process. Construction and structural engineers today use 3D drawing models and other visualization tools and technologies to create flawless architectural models. VR can also help city planners to effectively check whether a built model fits the existing infrastructural constraints and space. If not, then engineers can make the required alterations to the model.
The incorporation of VR in films and videogames gives life to the imagination of content creators. Data-driven VR gives city planners, their partners, and constituents a peek into what could become a very real future.