AECOM Visualises a Sustainable City using Play-Based Learning
Part of AECOM’s remit is to work with governments and policymakers to create sustainable cities around the world. In this mission, they are faced with a number of challenges, one of which is to utilise the vast amounts of data they’ve gathered to develop statistical insights that can assist stakeholders in decision making on key projects. In light of this, S1T2 created Reconnected City, a data visualisation project aimed at utilising gamification and play-based learning to find a way to make AECOM’s proprietary statistical data models easier to understand for stakeholders tasked with making precise city planning decisions.
In order to help stakeholders make more precise and informed city planning decisions, Reconnected City presented AECOM’s data as a virtual, sim-city-like installation. Run on multi-touch tables, the application used human hands and fingers as its main source of interaction, ensuring a smooth and intuitive user experience. As users used this creative technology to create their cities, they were able to witness in real-time the effect that constructing buildings, roads, parks, and other city developments had on both the environment and the community. The result was a truly memorable experience for stakeholders including policy makers, government officials and members of the public, to engage in an interactive tool to learn and understand more about future-cities
As a result of its initial success at Vivid Ideas, Reconnected City has since been reconfigured and repurposed for a number of other implementations both nationally and internationally. The installation’s data visualisation technology is suitable for a number of alternative applications, and is available for private viewing upon request. A case study about the project and its use of its technology can also be viewed on S1T2’s YouTube channel.
Displaying Big Data with Real-Time Feedback
Using real data gathered through AECOM’s Sustainable Systems Integration Model (SSIM), Reconnected City proposed new ways of interpreting data and statistical modelling through its engaging interaction and gamified interface. As users were shown live screens with metrics relating to population, energy, water consumption, traffic and overall costs in real time, they were able to collaborate in the development of their unique own city. This added a competitive element to the experience, allowing it to become an effective visual simulation and play-based learning tool providing stakeholders with an accurate representation of the effect their policies and legislation had on the urban environment and its community.
Given that over 1,000 assets needed to be created repeatedly throughout the data visualisation, we chose to adopt an uncomplicated, low-poly design style, leaving the virtual cities with a simple, flat aesthetic. Perspective was then set in isometric such that the varying heights and structural character of buildings could be shown, while the overall experience was built in 2D to keep the files smaller and lighter. By displaying data in this kind of engaging and easy-to-understand way, we were able to use creative technology to foster enhanced communication and use of that data without the need for expert knowledge.
- Adobe Creative Suite.
- Unreal Engine 4.
- PQ Labs MultiTouch G4.
Interactive Multi-User Learning
Placing two multi-touch tables adjacent to each other allowed participants to reenact the challenges of creating a larger urban environment with multiple stakeholder interests. As users carefully collaborated on their cities, they were encouraged to talk with one another, planning the city landscape together. This scenario in particular, simulated the real experience of building modern cities with various complex considerations. S1T2 used real-time technology to interactively demonstrate the difficulties involved in building a well-structured and connected urban environment, and the importance of collaboration in creating sustainable cities around the world.