Considerations on CO3 AR experience in COVID-19 pandemic scenarios (LINKS)

Considerations on CO3 AR experience in COVID-19 pandemic scenarios (LINKS)

 CO3 identified three main challenges:

  • CH1: Contrasting economic crises affecting social welfare through sharing economy and commoning involving PAs and citizens as partners.
  • CH2: Taking advantage of disruptive technologies to transform the landscape of public services including citizens in the service creation-delivery-management loop for creating public value by means of more efficient, effective, inclusive and sustainable government processes and governance.
  • CH3: Boosting public engagement and participation using a technological internet based platform that supports collaboration offered by the government to the citizens also via incentives and gamification.

A fundamental part of CO3 is involving grassroot movements on commoning and commoners, PAs, university campuses, retailers, artists and other relevant stakeholders, in a process of mobilisation, mutual learning and doing things together. CO3 pilots in three sites the application of several transformative technologies which can enhance the capability of co-creation, co-production and co-management of public services. The different CO3 pilots consider different socio-cultural, economic, and legal contexts and different public services.

Within the old pre-COVID perspective, we can say all these challenges, components and pilots shared several common, implicit pre-conditions and aims:

  • The availability of physical shared space, with no limitations or restrictions for its fruition
  • A general principle, that fostering more in-presence interactions between people is much better than staying in the current thread of more and more remote and distance interactions
  • An overall metrics, that measure success in the frequency of visits, occupancy of spaces, presence of crowds, etc.

These are torn apart in our post- (or current-) COVID situation, and therefore:

  • Physical space should be shared with limitations in the number of people present at the same time and restrictions for specific categories, conditions, etc. probably leading to the need of managing shifts, accessing rules, bookings, etc.
  • Overturning the general principle, so that remote and distance interactions are again not discouraged over in-presence interactions between people, while maintaining a strong bond with the actual physical space
  • Metrics must find new ways for taking into account this new conditions

At the same time, within our COVID situation, all the three main challenges are even more important and urgent: we’re going to have even bigger economic crises, hugely affecting social welfare, and these will need effective, inclusive and sustainable processes and governance, public engagement, participation and collaboration

Alternative AR experiences

Let’s consider a generic ACA, consisting of a single public space, like a meeting hall, a big empty room, a school court, etc.  The following considerations can be applied also to more articulated ACAs, but let’s say simple for this first explanation. Within this public space, one or more AR markers are visible: stitched onto walls, or laid on tables, floors, etc. Each AR marker is the starting point for the interaction with the CO3 contents, initiatives and services (or anything else commoners want to do…) that are associated to that marker. Let’s consider three scenarios:

Scenario 1) Pre-COVID Scenario

Scenario 2) Post-COVID (during non-lockdown periods) Scenario

Scenario 3) Post-COVID (during lockdown periods) Scenario

In all the scenarios below, AR markers are ALREADY in place in the physical space, put there before by the ACA manager. In scenarios 2 and 3 it’s also possible to think about how to allow the ACA manager to add remotely new ‘virtual’ markers, or to allow app programmers to create active spots, so that the recognition is no more done by the ‘optical’ recognition of the marker, but by hovering the active spot; but let’s stay simple now.

1) Pre-COVID Scenario

Commoners can access the ACA, with no limitations or restrictions

This is the scenario discussed, planned and designed until now…The App main screen shows the smartphone camera view; only when in presence, citizens point to markers and start the interactions

Figure 1 – People inside the ACA using their smartphone to explore the augmented content
Figure 1 – People inside the ACA using their smartphone to explore the augmented content
2) Post-COVID during non-lockdown periods Scenario

Commoners can access the ACA, with limitations or restrictions. Both in-presence and from remote experience are allowed.

So your government has reopened the public places, but only for few people at the same time; the ACA manager wants to encourage both interactions in-place and from remote, and still support the sense of ‘being there’… so she/he puts in the middle of the room a 360 webcam that streams its live feed, with all the markers well visible. The 360 webcam can also be used to stream events happening in the ACA, to allow more commoners to enjoy activities that are happening in the ACA, from live concerts, to yoga lessons, from post-school activities to legal consultancies.

  • The App main screen shows the smartphone camera view; only when in presence, citizens point to markers and start the interactions
  • The App main screen shows a 360 live feed of the ACA; from remote, citizens point to markers visible in the 360 image and start the interactions
Figure 2 – Few people can stay in the ACA, respecting social distancing norms, while other can stay connected, explore and enrich the augmented content from home, thanks to a 360 live feed
Figure 2 – Few people can stay in the ACA, respecting social distancing norms, while other can stay connected, explore and enrich the augmented content from home, thanks to a 360 live feed

Moreover, live feeds (360 or ‘normal’) are an additional content the ACA can provide in order to allow remote visitors to enjoy activities that are happening in the ACA, from live concerts, to yoga lessons, from post-school activities to legal consultancies.

3) Post-COVID during lockdown periods Scenario

Commoners can’t access the ACA, because of the quarantine.

So your government has locked you down at home; the ACA manager had just the time to go in the middle of the room, take a good 360 photo, and upload it… all the markers are well visible in the photo; from now on, commoners can continue to interact remotely and still have a strong visual reminder of their ACA…

Of course, the ACA manager can think to use the 360 webcam described in the second scenario also in this third scenario, to allow remote visitors still experience with a live feed the variations in light, weather conditions, other nature elements in the ACA. From a technical point of view, the one with e 360 static image is easier to develop and deploy.

The App main screen shows a 360 static image of the ACA; from remote, citizens point to markers visible in the 360 image and start the interactions

Figure 3 – The ACA is closed due to the lockdown; people can connect from home, explore and enrich the augmented content, thanks to a 360 static image, or a 360 live feed, of the ACA
Figure 3 – The ACA is closed due to the lockdown; people can connect from home, explore and enrich the augmented content, thanks to a 360 static image, or a 360 live feed, of the ACA

As shown by the different scenarios, the inclusion of AR technology inside the ACAs is more need than it was before because of the enhanced communication experience between the citizens participating in the different ACAs.

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