29 Jun 2021

Civica: Immersive tech set to revolutionise public services

From Augmented Reality (AR) to the fully immersive Virtual Reality (VR), immersive technologies offer so many exciting possibilities for our public services. Beyond the the latest video-games headset on the market, uses for AR and VR are already much wider from remote house viewings to virtual school trips and workplace safety training.  

At Civica, we see huge scope for public services to take a lead on the use of immersive technologies. Via our Perspectives series, we’ve already shown what success can look like through a variety of examples: 

  1. Overcoming data visualisation challenges 

Every industry is trying to make better use of data. There are lots of sophisticated models being developed to go deeper into data sets and derive insights. But when it comes to the people who use data to make decisions, it’s difficult to capture this information and make it accessible. Augmented and virtual reality is helping people visualise huge volumes of data, often overlaid on real-world contexts, to improve decision-making.   

For example, city authorities are piloting AR and mixed reality to help planners, officials and citizens engage in community planning. Immersive 3D data visualisations can help show what a new housing development might look like, or its impact on traffic patterns. Council staff can use street maintenance AR to better understand asset status, enabling them to visualise information live in the field. 

  1. Remote assistance will become the norm  

Immersive technologies will continue to support live knowledge exchange, providing faster assistance to those who need it. For example, AR combined with smart devices, can help experts provide remote guidance, and even virtually reach out and support colleagues or customers. 

In healthcare, AR is helping computer-generated features to provide live guidance during surgery and to improve the delivery of training. Smart software recognises anatomy parts and can create realistic training simulations as well as enabling peers to join remotely. 

  1. Enhanced experiences  

Immersive experiences are already widely available from VR headsets for gaming to AR photo-enhancing apps. A virtual ‘try before you buy’ allows customers to see how products look while museums and artists use AR to enrich a visitor’s experience. 

Interactive learning VR content is creating opportunities for students to experience environments that may not be possible in real life. But VR headsets can be expensive, so the biggest opportunity is to deploy AR immersive content that students can access using their own smartphones. AR can give pupils a clearer view of the Egyptian pyramids or Great Barrier Reef in a way that photos or videos can’t – personalising the learning experience and making opportunities available to all.  

Making extended reality, THE reality 

As we can see, there are already great uses cases for immersive technologies across the public sector, but potential exists for more organisations to use them to better communicate, understand and connect our world. 

Public sector organisations have a prime opportunity to embrace the transformative potential of emerging technologies. To think not only about how to improve existing service delivery, but also to build new service offerings that improve quality of life for everyone in our society.

This article was written by Liz O’Driscoll, Head of Innovation at Civica. 

Liz O’Driscoll is a strategic leader with two decades' experience working in systems engineering, open innovation, and change management for the public, private sector and third sector. Passionate about finding solutions to wicked problems, she forms strong relationships to integrate new processes and technologies to drive lasting impact.  Learn more about Liz O'Driscoll.

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