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City In Georgia Planning Virtual World For Civic Interaction 39

GamePolitics reports that Decatur, Georgia is looking into the development of a virtual environment to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development in the city." They've put out a request for ideas (PDF) on how to adapt a blending of MMOs and social networking to suit a city's civic needs. "The virtual environment should mimic, though not necessarily mirror, the layout and visual aspects of the City within the defined geographic area." They also want it to be avatar-based, friendly to businesses, and have a "fun and intuitive interface."
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City In Georgia Planning Virtual World For Civic Interaction

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  • I've got it! Make it like America's Army Ops meets GTA. It's a first person shooter MMORPG that takes place in a virtual version of the town. Then you can find your n00b mailman and show him what you think of him forgetting to put the flag down on your mailbox. Did you just get overcharged at Walmart? Go home, log in, pick up a rocket launcher, and blow that place the hell up! It'd be a great stress reliever and creative way to let others in the town know you have complaints about them. I bet if peopl
    • I was thinking that to keep with the virtual words thing, you'd want a type of game that'd be good to interact with other people online at the time.

      So, maybe something along the line of Dead Rising -- you and the other players attempt to defend the town from the zombie uprising. Or, possibly allow you to play one of the psychos just to keep some balance, but it might be better from a community building aspect if all of the humans were working together. Which would work right up 'til the first griefer came

  • by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Friday December 19, 2008 @04:31AM (#26170407) Journal

    "GamePolitics reports that Decatur, Georgia is looking into the development of a virtual environment to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development in the city."

    The Sims meets Sim City.

  • Good luck with that. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DanTheManMS ( 1039636 ) on Friday December 19, 2008 @04:32AM (#26170419)

    Possible features of the proposed Virtual Decatur might include:

    • Opportunities to gather citizen input on policies, topics of interest, city services, and happenings
    • A Virtual City Hall Tour with multimedia capabilities.
    • Opportunities to earn coupons for use in real stores/retail establishments.
    • Streaming video of public meetings, ideally with a chat room feature that allows viewers to comment.
    • Access to visitors information (store hours, directions, weather, etc.)

    This all assumes that the citizens in the community are anxiously and zealously awaiting the chance to partake in this experiment. From my perspective, most of the people who actually concern themselves with community matters are the ones who will view this project as a mere gimmick to be avoided. I understand the idea is to encourage more community involvement by appealing to the more tech-savvy generation, but I truly do not believe this will be the stunning success that the article seems to imply they want it to be.

    Coupons can be obtained from a plethora of other sources (newspaper anyone?). Visitor's information would be best served on a standard web page. And streaming video? Nobody watches C-SPAN, and that's nation-wide. How many viewers are they expecting from a town of 20,000?

    • Our local council streams it's planning meetings over the web. This is very useful if you can't attend in person (and you can do something else in the boring bits). But you're right - a 3d world is overkill. Static web pages convey this information much better - and most likely already exist in some form. If they really want to get citizens to be more involved then they should write some applications for facebook etc. and exploit a social network that already exists.
    • 'Nobody' watches C-SPAN? Hyperbole at best. I know for a fact that people watch our city council on the public access channel. (Town of 40k or so.)
      I love how Slashdot, supposedly the home of those eager to explore the 'new frontier' of the digital world - spends so much time scorning pretty much every attempt to use the internet to create a virtual world. Unless that virtual world is dedicated to file sharing.

      • The point is that it's overkill, and it's the wrong solution to the problem. If people aren't involved in their community, throwing a virtual world at them isn't going to help. Or in Slashdot terms, repainting the exterior and changing the tires isn't going to help when the problem is with the engine.

        Though you're right in that my "nobody" comment was pure hyperbole. It was supposed to be a subtle reference to the SNL skit in which the big 3 automaker CEOs claimed that "nobody watches C-SPAN" but I ki
        • How is making the government accessible to the people overkill? How is it the wrong solution to your (undefined) problem? How is adding additional channels for people to get involved in their community not going to help?

          The world is going is going digital and online - and the supposedly technically savvy and net literate Slashdot community does nothing but sit and make snarky and unsupported comments.

    • Second Georgia?


    • by Shanoyu ( 975 )

      Nah, you misunderstand Decatur, which is actually part of Atlanta. Decatur disagrees with this notion despite being inside the perimeter, and therefore this is merely one of a number of attempts to be "different" and to distinguish itself as the odd child out-- which it's been trying to do pretty much since being the only town in Georgia to vote against secession during the civil war.

      There are even more technological oddities in Decatur that make people want to become Amish, for instance pay parking that r

  • How about like, you know, networking with people in real life? There's too much virtual interaction as it is. I say as I type a comment on a website.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Actually the whole thing is pretty silly. As a virtual environment only develops an IP address and a bank of servers at a hosting service. To develop a town, now is the time to focus on life style, a well behaved responsive police force, easy access to public services and, a clean healthy environment.

      Distance working is all about providing an hospitable socially interactive environment where remote workers can log out and tune into a comfortable easygoinglifestyle. People need to develop the idea of sepa

  • Dan Lockton's fantastic Architectures of Control [danlockton.co.uk] blog pointed out this week that the city of Sutton is already engaged in a similar, and yet more tangible project [sutton.gov.uk]

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday December 19, 2008 @09:13AM (#26171609) Journal
    Isn't setting up a virtual version of your city for "civic interaction" tantamount to admitting that the real one is so far from that objective that setting up a virtual one is easier than fixing the real one? I'm all for electronic communication methods, they are loads of fun and sometimes useful; but why would I want my real city to be busy building a fake city when it should be working on the real one?

    Now, in the future, I can imagine certain uses of a non-sucky virtual city, see "plot" section here [wikipedia.org].
    • I think it's a great idea. I look forward to hanging out at the Brickstore pub from the comfort of my own home.
  • There have got to be some roads that need to be paved, or the library could always use more books.
    At most, a small town needs a well organized and moderated forum. maybe throw in some social networking juju, but avatars?

    There are some successful virtual worlds out there, which, despite their success, I have no interest in visiting. Their effort will be crappy, buggy, pointless, and empty.

    The only use I could imagine using this for would be to walk down, virtually, to the mayors house and scream obscenities

  • Snowcrash ... and if independent states or countries would have a virtual environment it could be pretty cool. I really can't think of existing tech that could make that level of (referencing the book) immersion possible but still it is an interesting thought.
  • I hope Russia doesn't take them over in VR too! :P

  • It's FOSS and working today. https://lg3d-wonderland.dev.java.net/ [java.net]

    Project Wonderland is a 100% Java and open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds. Within those worlds, users can communicate with high-fidelity, immersive audio, share live desktop applications and documents and conduct real business. Wonderland is completely extensible; developers and graphic artists can extend its functionality to create entire new worlds and new features in existing worlds.

  • Editors, please, be more specific when mentioning Georgia, and clarify if you're referring to the country or the state.

    To me and most people around me, the title "City In Georgia Planning Virtual World For Civic Interaction" suggests that the article is about an impoverished city in the Caucasus trying to use technology to better preserve its ancient heritage during new architectural developments.
  • Watered down Second Life. Without the 'fun'.

  • Search for local pictures, and, from those, you'd have a nice build of the local scene pretty quickly. You might end up with something like the virtual city in "The City and the Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke. That had the ability for the user to move back and forth in time; that feature could be implemented here too.

How long does it take a DEC field service engineer to change a lightbulb? It depends on how many bad ones he brought with him.