Master Project from Bremen University of Applied Sciences
Betaville is a master project at the University of Applied Sciences Bremen, Germany, that aims at providing an online participation platform in the field of urban development. Its main purpose is to engage the residents of a city in a collaborative, creative environment, where everyone can express their ideas towards enhancing underdeveloped city areas. Betaville supports the development process from early-stage ideas and discussions to decision-making through ongoing engagement of communities.
Betaville is focused on reaching its audience through three different platforms: web client, smartphones, and multi-touch table. On all these platforms the user will be able to visualize proposals of ongoing city development projects, generate new ideas and vote for favored proposals. The mobile client employs augmented reality technologies in order to provide the user with on-site visualizations of proposals.
Betaville is part of the research network Think BETA - Evolution of Smart Cities.
A fictitious scenario might help to illustrate the process covered by Betaville.
In Alphaville, a fictitious city, an old factory has been torn down. The vacant area is to be revived in the near future and the city hall constitutes a planning board the official process has started. In order to take into consideration its citizens' demands for a livable city on the one hand as well as restrictions and potential interests of authorities on the other, the public administration is interested in the active participation of other parties in the development and decision-making process. Therefore, it creates a new project within Betaville and configures the available real estate in the virtual system.
Bob likes to actively take part in the planning process about his vicinity. As he is interested in a mixed use of the area, he uses Betaville's functionality to incorporate 3D models of a town houses settlement as well as a small shopping mall with space for different shops. Alice gets to see Bob's proposal on Betaville and adds a kindergarten that she finds essential for a vivid quarter. After releasing her ideas, her friend Carol also wants to participate in the redevelopment of the area. Equipped with her mobile device, Carol inspects the area and uses Betaville's mobile client for 3D on-site-visualizations of the different planning proposals on her mobile screen. With these authentic impressions in mind she realizes the long distance from the housing area to the kindergarten and changes the proposal directly on her mobile by positioning the kindergarten closer to the housing area. Back at home she realizes a lack of green space and substitutes the shopping mall in Bob's design by a small park.
Members of the community, local authorities, or even potential investors now have the chance to refine and extend the development branches created by Bob, Alice, and Carol, to rearrange the proposals or even to create new branches. In order to integrate as many citizens as possible in the process, the city of Alphaville additionally allocates multi-touch tables where small groups can meet and collaborate in real life, discuss alternative proposals, create and manipulate new ideas and visualize them, e.g. on attached urban screens.
Furthermore, every member of the community has the chance to participate in the decision-making process at a multi-touch table or mobile at the very site. This process will eventually lead to the identification of a preferred proposal (or a set thereof). In this field, Betaville experiments with different decision-making strategies. A special focus is put on the direct comparison of proposals and the selection of preferred ones.
Although the application scenario focuses on urban development, the project is open to other application domains that apply these three "channels" of participation and collaboration, like urban art projects or computer augmented learning.