Augmented and Virtual Reality in Cities: How Can They Help Citizens?

From the popular Pokemon game to Snapchat filters, augmented and virtual reality, technologies that merge the real world with a virtual reality, are not new. However, there are not just for games and gamers: governments can use them to provide data in real time, improve user experience, educate and deliver efficient services and much more. While there are many potential applications of new technologies, Data-Smart City Solutions focused on the ways it could actually improve the lives of citizens. Here is the list:

Police, Emergency Management and Training

AR systems can provide data in real time that could help police officers in their jobs, including 3D models of buildings they enter, past arrests at given addresses, and more. In emergency situations, users could map their locations so that responders would know where to allocate their resources and send rescue services. With the recreation of real-life experiences, police could get experience that is too dangerous in real life, emergency responders could practice rescues, and people in most professions can get the type of training that otherwise only comes with years of experience.

Construction and Urban Planning

The knowledge of surroundings is crucial to the safety of workers — such as the knowledge of the presence of asbestos, or that parts of the building are dangerously outdated. With new construction, cities could plan in advance what the landscape will look like, and gain feedback from local residents.

Such visualizations could raise investor interest as well.

Digital Services

Instead of the traditional paper route, governments could institute an interactive AR and VR experience to help users deal with the application process. In addition to a reduced number of errors, the technology would improve the satisfaction of both sides.

Tourism and Culture

With AR, you can walk up to a landmark and view additional images — such as historical photographs — and learn facts about that landmark. This is already being instituted in cities around the world.

Mental Health Services

AR and VR effective tools for treating anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, as they can be training tools for practice job interviews and high-stress environments. Social workers and practitioners who use these tools would be able to create a more significant impact.

Education

With AR and VR, teachers could not only describe an event, but also enrich the students’ experience with visual, realistic representations. From other cities to other planets, a picture is worth a thousand words, and an experience of actually being there, albeit virtually, is priceless. Also, with VR, students who live in remote locations could participate virtually, making education more available.

These technologies already exist and are in development. For example, the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Army Research Laboratory already funded a VR video game, Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE), that allows first responders — the police, fire fighters, paramedics and other rescue workers — to acquire and practice real-life skills in a safe, controlled environment.

But because the prices of these technologies are still high, it is important for governments to decide in advance which technologies are most useful in serving their citizens. Perhaps the three pillars of AR and VR should include protection, education and engagement: preventing accidents and providing optimal response to critical situations; helping people learn complicated concepts in a safe environment; and bring the government and its citizens closer by facilitating interactions.

Asgardia’s First Economic Congress in Nice, which begins in two days, will focus on ways to develop the ecosystem that is optimal for the Space Nation. It is worth noting that the interactions between the government and the citizens of Asgardia are already digital — and the use of technology is ahead of the curve, as seen with the upcoming digital parliamentary session. It is possible that AR and VR may be a subject of discussion at the Congress, as they can also help the government-citizen interactions.