The Bayerisches Anwenderforum, that took place on 24th July, 2019, discussed conceptual and practical questions of IT use as well as current developments in the legal, personnel and technological framework conditions of the public sector. Increasing digitalization and its benefits have convinced various sectors to adopt the latest technological developments. The administrative sector in numerous countries is recently advancing towards the use of internet and communication technologies to increase productivity and efficiency, thus transforming into an E-Government. With virtual reality readily revolutionizing business models and industrial structures, it holds huge potential for the government as well. From our 3 years of experience with implementation of VR applications, we presented the following ideas about putting VR into practice for E-Government at the forum.
When does VR help?
To know if VR would help your business processes, you need to know if the following conditions apply:
- You already have 3D data that can be used by VR applications.
- You want to discuss complex product data with experts from various disciplines and distributed organizations, hence multi user collaboration would be beneficial.
- You want to carry out a check of the control panel with users.
- You want to reuse VR data several times, e.g. in training processes that occur repeatedly for different employees.
- You want to visualize processes in 3D to get a realistic idea, with the added possibility of intuitive interaction.
- You want to assess premises/ergonomics.
- You want to document safety regulations which is not easily possible in reality due to risks.
Specific Applications for E-Government
Numerous applications exist for VR, whether the processes occur within the government, between governments (G2G), between the government and businesses (G2B) or between the government and citizens (G2C).
Within Government: Virtual Office
Government employees can work virtually, without having to be at the office premises. This is especially beneficial in case of offices at multiple locations. Meetings can be attended in virtually and important decisions can be taken after detailed mutual discussions, without having to meet in person. Immersive training can also be effectively conducted that proves to be more productive in terms of cost and time.
G2C: Neighbourhood Planning
Virtual walks can be conducted during construction of buildings, to get an accurate idea of the architecture and acoustics. This can also be used during presentations of building projects to clients. It especially allows viewers to closely examine things otherwise difficult to see with the naked eye.
A recent goal of the government has been to educate the masses about improvement in the energy balance in neighbourhood planning. To ensure citizen participation in this initiative, projects like Innovation City and Materna TMT are in progress to carry out modern climate-friendly urban redevelopment. VR can play an important role in these projects by allowing effective visualization of buildings. Multi user collaboration softwares can enable virtual meetings between designers and architects. Virtual trainings are also an additional use case among many that not only save cost but also time and other resources.
G2C: Patient Education
VR can be used to facilitate communication between experts and laypersons, thus leading to better education of patients. In unique cases where a patient is being diagnosed by doctors in another city or country, effective feedback can be given to patients through virtual collaboration. Doctors can also collaborate virtually for a particular case. This means that medicine is not restricted to borders and patients can receive the best treatment from the best physicians around the world.
In order to proceed with this, MRT data record would need to be processed to FBX. Once this FBX data has been imported into an appropriate game engine, the user would prepare the scene and start interacting with the data set. Multiple users can intuitively interact together before uploading the data to the server.
G2B - Hospital Planning
Hospitals are one of the many projects in which the government can not afford misplanning. VR can help the administrative sector avoid inaccuracies in minor details by allowing for quick, real-time communication between different project teams and specialist experts. Early feedback can be collected from personnel to avoid larger mistakes from occurring.
An IFC file would be used as the data format. The rest of the process is similar to that mentioned above, i.e. the IFC file needs to be imported into the game engine as FBX data to prepare the scene and start interaction. The final data can be uploaded to the server.
Furthermore, safety trainings and safety approvals can also benefit from VR while planning hospitals.
G2G - Air traffic visualization in VR
In order to achieve accurate visualization of air traffic, the government is undertaking numerous projects with different companies like Accso GmbH and Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (as the entrusted company part of the Federal Aviation Administration). These projects can make use of VR to animate traffic simulations in real-time for improved planning and design of airway construction projects. Detailed analysis can be conducted in less time, without having to invest heavy resources in financial and human capital.
Other possible applications include multi user exchange of data among different authorities. Virtual knowledge databases can be maintained that can be accessed, edited and contributed to by multiple aviation experts around the globe. Training sessions for air traffic controllers can also be arranged in virtual space.
Though some commonality exists in the ideas mentioned above, the list is non exhaustive and various other general or specific use cases can be applied. We hope that the government joins the digitalization bandwagon towards Industry 4.0 and starts using virtual reality as one of the most impactful technologies today.