Construction and civil engineering organizations are increasingly looking to construction technology like augmented reality (AR) to enhance workflows and improve stakeholder engagement. With AR’s powerful 3D capabilities, internal and external stakeholders can more effectively visualize the end result of a project in its actual environment, which helps to improve communication and collaboration and align everyone to the same expectations.
These stakeholders typically include AEC professionals. But they can also include urban planning and zoning personnel, as well as the citizens that will benefit from the project. Community members who actually use the schools, hospitals, commercial buildings, parks, roads, bridges, and other public works projects every day have their own interests when a new project is proposed. Their support is critical to the ultimate success of the project.
AR is proving to be an effective mechanism to gain public support since end-user stakeholders can benefit from AR as much as any other group. When you can help them visualize the finished structure or building in its real-world context, end users develop a greater understanding of the project. They can start to see how it will fit within their own lives and routines, how it will change or enhance their community, and what benefits or value it can provide.
“Imagine a world where citizens and businesses can actually ‘see’ through augmented reality what planned public works projects will
look like...and even interact with the augmented project.”
Whether AR is used to generate attention and interest for a new business or organization, or to show the exact location or footprint of a new or redeveloped structure, AR engages members of the public in ways that 2D plans and design mock-ups can never do.
User-friendly and affordable augmented reality technology gives you the ability to show realistic, interactive 3D imagery of what the end result will look like in its environment. You’re able to address questions or concerns, as well as create stronger buy-in. With the ability to visualize it for themselves, the public is much more likely to engage with the project as well as develop support and enthusiasm for it.
Here’s a closer look at how AR was used to help build public support for two community projects.
Green School New Zealand, part of the Global Green School Network, is an innovative school for children that advocates sustainability through community-integrated, entrepreneurial learning in a natural environment. The unique architecture and materials used in the campus’s standalone classrooms—or “pods”—were considered a potential draw for prospective students and their families who were interested in the school’s philosophy. But it was hard to share the vision of how the school would integrate with its environment while it was still under construction.
BTW Company, Ltd., a multi-disciplinary construction and engineering consultancy, is charged with construction management on the Green School project. They were just getting started with augmented reality technology when the design phase on the Green School began.
When BTW sat down with the founders of the Green School to show them paper plans of the proposed civil and infrastructure layout, their response was “We can't visualize this. Provide us with something more realistic.”
With the help of Trimble SiteVision, an augmented reality tool, BTW brought the paper plans to life and gave the founders of the school the visualization they were after. AR imagery can show various stages of progress during the construction phase, eliminating the need to decipher 2D plans.
This led to also using SiteVision to help market the future stages of the school to families. Using SiteVision to overlay specific elements of the project onto the actual landscape, BTW is able to give prospective families a compelling picture of the future campus in its finished state.
Before and after shots of freestanding classrooms (called pods) have also been posted on Instagram for both the Green School and BTW to share with their respective audiences. Using SiteVision, BTW and the Green School are able to bring the campus to life for their students’ families and other stakeholders.
The Rolleston community in New Zealand was committed to its early childhood education center, which was about to undergo a major redevelopment. The changes to the Rolleston Playcentre included a road realignment that would cause part of the playcenter to be lost and a new parking lot that was to be built on previously unallocated land. But when the redevelopment project was proposed, the local government was only able to supply community members with 2D paper plans, which made it especially challenging to communicate some of the more complex changes to the parents and playcenter workers who were affected.
A member of the community, who also happened to be a Trimble technical support engineer, was able to get a digital copy of the plans and use 3D modeling software in combination with Trimble SiteVision to help parents and workers better visualize the proposed changes. Referring to the 3D model while onsite, parents and workers could see—to scale and in context—how the redevelopment would affect both the center and the surrounding environment.
Parents and workers were able to use SiteVision themselves, using the mobile device-based technology to walk around and interact with the proposed changes at the existing playcenter. Instead of trying to decipher spray painted markings, which is what they’d been using prior to SiteVision, community stakeholders could clearly envision the project. They were able to see the proposed redevelopment from multiple angles, understand the placement of the new road and parking lot, and visualize the impact on the existing center’s boundaries.
The use of AR construction technology not only helped community stakeholders visualize the project effectively, it helped them engage with the project and build support and enthusiasm for the changes. It also gave contractors the feedback they needed to refine design alternatives.
Learn more about how AR was used on the Rolleston Playcentre project.
While AR technology continues to benefit construction and engineering companies on the jobsite and in the office, the opportunity to use it to build public support shouldn’t be overlooked. End-user stakeholders—those who will eventually use or interact with a building, structure, or other public works project—hold a significant portion of a project’s success in their hands. Clearly visualizing and understanding the project in context is key for them to provide invaluable feedback, as well as support and even champion it.
“A critical means of ensuring more inclusive benefits from infrastructure is to engage with the public, the private sector, and civil-society stakeholders on its design and implementation.”
When you use AR during planning, design, and even construction, you can share an unprecedented vision of what a finished project will look like. By overcoming the visualization problem, you’re able to create greater engagement and build stronger support for public projects. But the advantages of AR don’t end there.
Augmented reality is also helping forward-thinking AEC professionals create competitive advantage. To learn more, read the eBook.