Building Trust Through Transparency: The Role of Visualisation in Community Engagement

By
Alex Tolson
April 3, 2023

When it comes to community engagement, transparency is key. Communities want to know what is happening in their neighborhoods and how it will impact their daily lives. However, traditional methods of community engagement, such as town hall meetings and public hearings, are often limited in their ability to effectively communicate complex information and engage community members in meaningful dialogue.

This is where visualisation can play a crucial role. By creating visual representations of proposed projects and plans, community members can better understand the impacts and benefits of proposed developments, and engage in more informed discussions with project teams. Visualisation can take many forms, from simple sketches and diagrams to more complex 3D models and interactive simulations.

The history of visualisation in community engagement is long and varied. In the past, community engagement visualisations relied on sketches and hand-drawn illustrations. While these were useful in giving people a basic idea of what a project might look like, they were limited in their ability to accurately represent complex designs.

Visualisation for Community Engagement using hand drawn sketch

With the advent of computer-aided design (CAD), visualisations became more sophisticated. CAD software allowed project teams to create detailed, accurate models of proposed developments, and to show these models from a variety of angles. This enabled community members to get a much better sense of how a project would look and feel, and to provide more detailed feedback and suggestions to project teams.

Visualisation for Community Engagement using CAD

In recent years, video fly-throughs have become a popular way of visualising proposed developments. These videos provide a virtual tour of a project, showing how it will look and function in the real world. Video fly-throughs have been particularly useful in engaging community members who may not be able to attend in-person meetings or events.

However, the future of visualisation in community engagement is even more exciting. Web-based tools are increasingly being used to create interactive visualisations that can be easily shared with a wider audience. These tools allow community members to explore proposed projects in detail, and to provide feedback and suggestions in real-time.

In addition, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are opening up new possibilities for visualisation in community engagement. AI tools can be used to create highly detailed and accurate models of proposed developments, and to show these models in a variety of contexts. For example, an AI tool might allow community members to see how a new telephone tower will look from their address, or how a proposed development will impact local traffic patterns.

Overall, visualisation is a powerful tool for building trust and transparency in community engagement. By creating visual representations of proposed projects and plans, project teams can engage community members in more informed discussions and build stronger relationships with local stakeholders. As technology continues to evolve, visualisation will play an increasingly important role in creating equitable and sustainable developments that benefit everyone in the community.

One example of successful visualisation in community engagement is the development of the Sydney Metro Northwest project. The project involved the construction of a new metro line connecting Sydney's northwest suburbs to the city center. The project team used a variety of visualisation tools to engage with the community, including 3D models, fly-through videos, and interactive web-based tools.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVgKjCz7WmM[/embed]

The 3D models allowed community members to see the proposed stations and tunnels in detail, and to provide feedback on design elements such as lighting and signage. The fly-through videos provided a virtual tour of the proposed metro line, showing how it would look and function in the real world. The interactive web-based tools allowed community members to explore the project in more detail, and to provide feedback and suggestions in real-time.

Overall, visualisation is a powerful tool for building trust and transparency in community engagement. By creating visual representations of proposed projects and plans, project teams can engage community members in more informed discussions and build stronger relationships with local stakeholders. As technology continues to evolve, visualisation will play an increasingly important role in creating equitable and sustainable developments that benefit everyone in the community.

Alex Tolson
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