Augmented Reality Comes to City Government

Augmented Reality Comes to City Government

Venture capitalists and Silicon Valley companies aren’t the only ones taking a hard look at augmented reality. Earlier this year, Civic Resource Group International held a soft launch for its new augmented reality offering for municipalities.

The technology enables citizen smartphones to provide an augmented reality (AR) experience as they go about life in their locality. The application relies on context to determine the needs of the user and serves up data that meets them. The data can also be delivered in a variety of languages.

A visual search feature allows users to scan city assets like subway stations, restaurants, signs, and even trees for information. The directional search feature enables them to simply point their mobile device to explore and engage with their environment. A virtual teleportation feature lets them visualize distant points of interest and facilities with 360 views — all remotely.

Civic Resource Group created the offering out of work that it was already doing with municipalities on kiosks, mobile apps, and data analytics. “What makes us stand out in this space is that we are the only company providing augmented reality to government. The technology has been available to enterprise for awhile, but the use cases and needs in government aren’t always one-to-one,” says Civic Resource Group CEO Dr. Greg Curtin in an interview with CivSource.

Civic Resource Group was founded in 2000, after Dr. Curtin transitioned out of the public sector. The company is privately held, and has a limited interest from Atlantic Bridge Ventures, a venture capital firm that was involved in the sale of Metaio another AR company to Apple in May.

All of Civic Resource’s technology is vendor agnostic, for cities that may already have some of the sensor and data components required to enable AR. “At this point, many cities have already done a pilot project, or are tracking data internally, and that’s going to grow as the Internet of Things expands. So, our platform is designed to work with what’s there, and build on it.”

To that end, Civic Resource has been able to work around some of the procurement challenges that come with melding modern technology and archaic procurement vehicles. “We’ve been able to start with small pilots, or come alongside more traditional contractors as part of a larger project where we are building in our technology,” Dr. Curtin says.

So far, there are a handful of municipalities exploring the technology and Dr. Curtin is planning a roadshow for the second half of this year building on the interest generated during the soft launch.

“I think this is the next phase for cities. Augmented reality can solve for a lot of common problems from finding parking, to making a more interactive travel and tourism experience,” Dr. Curtin said.