Researchers at the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (HFT) have developed a digital 3D participation platform that allows citizens to participate online in the development of areas in their place of residence - despite the corona pandemic. Project partners are the City of Stuttgart and STEG Stadtentwicklung GmbH. The digital tool is used for the "Future Dialogue Weilimdorf" in the planning area west of Solitudestraße.
As larger face-to-face events are currently not possible, the 3D participation platform can be a useful tool for municipalities to inform and collect opinions, ideas and wishes in the participation process. Residents can navigate through an interactive geographical 3D landscape online on their PC or smartphone and obtain information. The platform will be accessible to the people of Weilimdorf until the end of January 2021.
The 3D participation platform was created through the interdisciplinary collaboration of the geoinformaticians Patrick Würstle and Rushikesh Padsala, the planners Carolin Lahode and Sarah Sutter, the business psychologist Sarah Lang and the acoustics researcher Alexander Lee - all from the transfer project M4_LAB at HFT. This transfer project is funded by the Federal-Länder Initiative "Innovative Hochschule".
We bring to the project our expertise in the areas of digitization, 3D city models, planning and citizen surveys. Above all, we want to give impulses for participation processes through the transfer of technology from the university to society.
Navigation through the room: vivid and vivid
A central component of the participation platform is the 3D environment. The already existing buildings are displayed three-dimensionally in the planning area. The users look from a bird's eye view at a plastic model, which for many people seems more vivid than a normal flat city map. Citizens can navigate through the space and obtain information about possible uses at marked locations with just one click.
The HFT research group is also working on such a platform for the Böckinger Strasse development areas in Zuffenhausen-Rot and at Stuttgart's Nordbahnhof station.
Citizens' opinions are sought
A central element of participation is an integrated survey. Here citizens can leave their individual ideas and comments: What should be created and built there for the community according to their ideas? In addition, the survey also asks for a mood. Do citizens feel well integrated into the participation process?
The 3D participation platform also contains information about existing plans and decisions of the municipal committees. In addition, associations and organisations based in the area are presented.
On the 3D participation platform, the people of Weilimdorf can navigate through various areas A, B, C and D in the planning area to the marked points where new projects are to be developed. In the area A of the interactive 3D map, the citizens are informed about existing ideas, for example to realise a community centre for the association and cultural work. Area B is characterised by sports-related use. Here there are already sports fields, athletics fields or tennis courts, for which further development is planned. Area C, where a nursery used to be located, has mainly green open spaces. A club is currently running an "urban gardening" project there as a temporary, time-limited project.
Apartments are not planned in the whole area because of the noise level.
Reach more people?
With the 3D participation platform, there may also be a chance to reach broader sections of the population than before, because they are independent of time and space. Young families are often prevented from attending school because of childcare. Online access could also be more low-threshold for young people. People with reduced mobility would have the opportunity to participate without having to leave home.
"For us, the whole practical project is also a good opportunity to test and improve the 3D participation platform. We are looking forward to the feedback from the citizens," says the HFT research team. On the platform, users can leave a message as to whether the digital tool fulfils its purpose or whether it should be improved.
Not only Weilimdorf, but also many cities and communities are in a predicament with regard to the development planning of areas, especially due to the corona pandemic. The usual procedure: If new areas are planned by the local authorities in coordination with the local political bodies, a participation procedure also begins in parallel. The municipality invites all citizens to events where they can express their wishes, suggestions and concerns. However, it is currently not possible to hold larger attendance appointments because social distance is required due to the corona pandemic.
All in all, such digital platforms offer the opportunity to inquire about the development of planning areas even independently of the corona pandemic. Online and offline formats can be complemented well. Parallel to the digital participation process in Weilimdorf, walks and site inspections are also to take place.
With this cooperation project we are gaining new experience in the field of virtual participation. In addition to conventional participation offerings, new possibilities arise for citizens to be involved in the decision-making processes. This is a decisive step towards creating attractive, lively and above all accepted neighbourhoods.