Our Prototyping Journey
How we are testing our idea
New Rochelle will assess whether residents are more likely to attend meetings about development if immersive technology is used. Residents will test virtual reality goggles in a planning session to assess the impact of technology on resident engagement and feedback.
Our idea will enable all our citizens to be able to help give their feedback in meaningful ways at meaningful times in the development of our city.Amelia Bearshein, Executive Director
IDEA New Rochelle
What we're discovering through testing
New Rochelle used an online survey to get feedback from citizens about how they want to be involved in the development of the city. The survey asked residents to click on images in response to questions like, “You’ve been asked to help the city build a recreation center–what would you do?” They found that no matter what age, people are drawn to immersive tech to give feedback or learn about their city. Residents also said they liked being approached and asked for their feedback by the city.
To test out immersive technology as a tool for engagement, the team planned an event at a local farmers market. The color coded market stalls included virtual reality headsets to imagine new developments, and an augmented reality phone app that re-designed the local park. Although the team wa slightly nervous about turn-out, hundreds of people from young children to elderly came and interacted with the technology.
If you want to reach my kids and that generation in the future on community issues, you do need to embrace advanced technology like this.New Rochelle Parent
What we've learned
The New Rochelle team found it valuable to collaborate with multiple city departments: the Mayor’s office, the Downtown New Rochelle Business Improvement District and technology partner and IDEA New Rochelle. These departments typically work in silos, but this phase allowed the team to establish an integrated working relationship where they can share knowledge. Moreover, the skills they have gained in public participation is an asset they will carry forward in other areas of their work.
“I have frequently thought of technology as something that “isolates” people from community. But in the process of our project, I have learned that virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 video technologies can be useful tool (and easy to use!)...” Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District
Missed New Rochelle's Mayors' Challenge Sprint 2 event on June 16th? Take a stroll with us through the exhibit!