THE ARCHITECTS NEWSPAPER: NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK, LAUNCHES A VIRTUAL REALITY PLATFORM TO VISUALIZE PLANNED DOWNTOWN IMPROVEMENTS
Cities are coming up with innovative ways to conduct community engagement during the pandemic, and in New Rochelle, NY, residents can now use virtual reality (VR) to visualize proposed city planning changes. The proposed buildings and public spaces appear layered over the actual environment in the VR platform, which is available to view in public kiosks, through VR goggles, and on smartphones. The city will incorporate feedback and reflections from the residents who utilize the VR experience.
In the wake of protests over racism and policing, many cities are rethinking how to keep residents safe. In Austin, Texas, city officials are parsing 911 call data to determine what types of calls are most common. For example, many were related to mental health problems and welfare checks; the city wants to use this information to identify what other services or departments might be the best fit to respond to these types of calls, so that the police don’t need to be dispatched for an incident outside their purview.
SMART CITIES DIVE: MAPPING APP USES AIR QUALITY DATA TO SHOW LOCAL IMPACTS
As many cities and states on the West Coast battle wildfires, it's crucial for residents to understand their risk of secondary health impacts from poor air quality. Since airborne pollutants can travel far outside fire zones, the new Air Quality Aware app utilizes weather reports, federal air quality data, and wind speed projections to predict where it's unsafe to be outside. The app also utilizes Census Bureau demographic data to show how the impacts can affect certain communities more than others.
Like other cities around the world, Kansas City, Missouri, is rapidly adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s data team helped stand up remote City Council meetings, remote town halls, and virtual court proceedings, so that residents had minimal disruptions and remained connected to city leaders. The KCMO data team also made innovations in the local government departments, including measuring use of new tools and collecting data on government innovation.