Agumented Reality and Local Government – Talk About Local

People have often said that Local Government has a reality all of its own, now the technology is available for you to create new (augmented) realities using the data that you are the keepers of.

Augmented reality allows local governments to provide more information about objects such as buildings, visitor attractions,even street furniture than could ever be conveyed by a physical noticeboard.  The citizen or your staff can simply hold up their phone and, through the camera view see bubbles floating over objects that, when tapped on screen pull up web pages of info about the object.  Thanks to Talk About Local’s software developed with NESTA and The Nominet Trust this is quick, easy and relatively cheap to do.

Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent

With the advent of ever more powerful smart devices and a lower cost of entry to own them, Local Government can now start to look at using these technologies for the benefit their communities.

Augmented Reality still sounds very sci-fi and people may say it is a gimmick, but it is simply, being able to enhance a user’s environment digitally, providing them with an extra layer of information based on their physical location.

The extra layer of information that a user gets could be anything of a number of things, for example

Planning applications – how good would it be for a resident, visitor, council officer or other interested party, to be able to use their smart device to look down a road and see which properties currently have planning applications on them? Maybe someone looking to move in to a particular area, they could have a quick scan around with their smart device and see that there is an application to pull the old shops down and replace it with a new modern precinct. What if licensing applications were available? Your new resident could see that the bistro across the road wants to extend its opening hours, or the local pub wants a late license for entertainment on Friday Saturday & Sunday the list is endless but it puts the information into the hands of the person who needs it and allows them to make a more informed decision.

These are boring and possibly mundane examples but they are examples of information that you hold that is publically available, that with a little work you can present to people in a new, innovative and useful way.

Tourism – Budgets being cut, tourist information officer’s roles being slashed, offices being closed? Why not put your, listed buildings, places of interest and public art into augmented reality, give your visitors the tools to self navigate around your town or city. For a visitor to see where the ancestral home of Sir Joseph Fosdyke, Tripe Magnate, is in relation to their current location and then get directions to get them there empowers the visitor and allows you to control their visitor experience to some degree.

Those are just a few very simple examples of what you could do to augment the reality of people in your towns & cities; it certainly isn’t the cure all but it also isn’t a gimmick. Google Glass (and others) is coming, get your data out there and make sure your place doesn’t become the Starbucks Street.

If you have a smart device, phone or tablet, got this link to see examples of geolocated data from the West Midlands being used in Augmented Reality, we have used data from Rate My Place, Planning Alerts & Fix My Street as examples. If you are not able to see any points in the app from your location drop us a line at with your location and we will add some data in for you, better still if you have a data set that is geolocated we would be delighted to add a sample of your data for you to experiment with.

If you have geolocated data or even if you wanted to create bespoke data for a project, adding this into Augmented Reality platforms isn’t as difficult or as costly as you may think.  Get in touch with the team at Talk About Local for more

by Mike Rawlins

Founder of the Pits n Pots hyperlocal website in Stoke-on-Trent and  commercial and technical manager at Talk About Local.

Picture credit

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