This blog post is the fourth in a series of guest entries written by the winners of the Catapult’s Future of Planning Open Call. Between February and April 2017, nine teams are developing new technologies and prototypes to create a more data-driven and digitally enabled planning system. This week, we feature a blog post from Abigail Brownlee of Linknode Ltd. who are exploring the use of augmented reality to visualise unbuilt development proposals to inform the public consultation process.
Follow @Linknode8 to learn more about their project.
We live in a multi-dimensional world and experience our environment through our senses. For most people, vision is the dominant way we experience the world. Our sense of orientation within a given context, location, and place is determined by an animated 3D model of the world that our brains construct from the cues around us. Light, materials, textures, and shapes all affect the emotional resonance that we feel within a place.
When it comes to understanding changes in our world, particularly changes to the built environment proposed through the development and planning process, it is essential that the information we base our decisions on adheres to common frames of reference. As citizens evaluating a development proposal, information should be presented plainly and in the context of the way we actually perceive the world. Too often architects and developers are driven by a desire to sell their plans as aspirational visions, or planning authorities present proposals in maps filled with red-line polygons and annotated with technical, administrative and legal terms.
Without engaging communities and citizens in their own way of understanding world, we risk alienating and disenfranchising people by propagating fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Instead we should empower citizens to be able to understand and make sense of development proposals and engage fully in the planning and placemaking process.
Linknode is working to solve this problem by developing a tool to make complex information about development proposals more accessible, relevant and understandable. In the modern world, accessible means mobile, device-centric, and personalised of data for on-demand information.
Accessibility also means being “location aware”. In a desktop environment, a search engine can return results based on keywords, profiling and history, but search in a mobile context has the ability to enrich result with environmental context. For example, a search for the term “coffee shop” on a mobile device should return information about coffee shops in my immediate vicinity, not only a Wikipedia article about this history of coffee shops.
In order to make complex data about development proposals relevant and accessible, we need to provide contextual understanding. With this in mind, Linknode is creating a tool that enables users to visualize proposals in three-dimensional mixed-reality environment, providing real-time integration with BIM and 3D data on-screen. The benefit of seeing a development in context and in scale is to decrease fear, misunderstanding and doubt while increasing engagement with the planning process and building more ownership with stronger communities
In the Future of Planning we will adapt our capacity to deliver mobile experiences to consumer applications for the first time.