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Zaanstad lets 3D VR/AR support its urban development

Lose the cardboard models

The city of Zaanstad works on urban improvement on a day-to-day basis and likes to have its citizens participate in the process. However, spending an evening together in a local community house will not be sufficient to do this on a wide scale. That’s why the council is currently considering visualizing their urban scenarios in Virtual Reality.

Involving citizens on a broader level

Just like any other local council, Zaanstad works on renewing and optimizing its urban environment on a day-to-day basis. Residents can contribute to this process by taking part in regular public consultation meetings, where fact sheets are handed out and a project manager scribbles a few things on a flipchart. That approach, however, doesn’t bring plans to life and fails to show people how policy works, exactly. Never mind letting them know how they might contribute. The unintentional result tends to be a laborious development and planning process in which citizens mainly bring up objections rather than raising new ideas and exploring possibilities. “There’s definitely room for improvement here,” the council thought. But how?


Immersive policymaking

In order to show how citizens can be fired up to engage in spatial decision making and urban development, Geodan Go set up a virtual experience point in the city of Zaanstad. It let decision makers and project managers experience a virtual 3D version of two future traffic scenarios, using Geomagine®; a data-driven view and feel technology that enables just about every Dutch local government to create its future environment in 3D Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality. This type of technology addresses issues like residential area development, impact analyses and route optimization. If it turns out that a certain scenario does not meet the necessary requirements, you can conjure up an alternative with the click of a button on your VR controller. This eventually leads to plans that really speak to the people.

Using a 3D VR/AR version of the city of Zaanstad, people are able to experience new residential areas in a more immersive way


More civic consent through data visualization

Once you start to pre-create urban development scenarios in 3D VR/AR, people will stop making objections and start suggesting ideas for improvement. This generates more involvement and civic consent with urban development, letting both policymakers and residents spend more time on collaboration than on counter-productive debates.


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