Enhancing Urban Conversation for Smarter Cities – Augmented Reality as an enabler of digital civic participation

Michael Hunter, Alessandro Soro, Ross Brown

pp.  75 - 99, download






This paper presents a perspective on the role immersive technologies can play in the future of urban transformation. Specifically, this paper looks to answer the following questions – How can Augmented Reality be implemented as an enabler of civic participation in the urban transformation process? What specific and novel affordances does Augmented Reality present in this context? And how do these affordances demonstrate a unique interaction paradigm between citizens and cities?  We review the current literature on future cities, urban transformation, digital civic participation and augmented reality usage to determine the current state of digitally enhanced urban transformation processes. As a result, we identify an opportunity in which recent developments in Augmented Reality technologies afford entirely new ways of approaching civic participation.We suggest new Augmented Reality technologies can be considered as a novel way to engage citizens in decision making processes and as a result improve the resilience, adaptability and sustainability of future cities. Augmented Reality can allow citizens and other stakeholders to visualise and imagine possible urban transformations, to contribute to an ongoing discussion between citizens and with city councils, and to participate in a feedback loop in which ideas are refined, analysed, and iterated in a collaborative process. We finally discuss challenges, tensions, and open issues of a research agenda aimed at developing immersive technologies for participatory urban transformation.  



Keywords: smart cities, urban transformation, augmented reality, civic participation, community-led initiatives, sustainability. 



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