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City In Georgia Planning Virtual World For Civic Interaction

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the like-a-game-only-without-the-fun dept.

Government 39

GamePolitics reports that Decatur, Georgia is looking into the development of a virtual environment to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development in the city." They've put out a request for ideas (PDF) on how to adapt a blending of MMOs and social networking to suit a city's civic needs. "The virtual environment should mimic, though not necessarily mirror, the layout and visual aspects of the City within the defined geographic area." They also want it to be avatar-based, friendly to businesses, and have a "fun and intuitive interface."

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Mod me up 'cuz I'm a girl (-1, Troll)

Slashdotvagina (1434241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170203)

Look at me, I advertise via my username the fact that I have a vagina. So mod me up everybody!

Re:Mod me up 'cuz I'm a girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26174295)


Check this post out man. I flamed a "female" for the very same reason. She replies about five times...quite fun to look at the entire thread... []

"That IT Girl"

I'm feeling this one! (2, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170355)

I've got it! Make it like America's Army Ops meets GTA. It's a first person shooter MMORPG that takes place in a virtual version of the town. Then you can find your n00b mailman and show him what you think of him forgetting to put the flag down on your mailbox. Did you just get overcharged at Walmart? Go home, log in, pick up a rocket launcher, and blow that place the hell up! It'd be a great stress reliever and creative way to let others in the town know you have complaints about them. I bet if people could speed through town at 120MPH in a hijacked corvette in the game, when it gets to reality it'd be all out of their system and they'd even drive under the speed limit. It's genius i tell you!

Re:I'm feeling this one! (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 5 years ago | (#26171365)

I was thinking that to keep with the virtual words thing, you'd want a type of game that'd be good to interact with other people online at the time.

So, maybe something along the line of Dead Rising -- you and the other players attempt to defend the town from the zombie uprising. Or, possibly allow you to play one of the psychos just to keep some balance, but it might be better from a community building aspect if all of the humans were working together. Which would work right up 'til the first griefer came in and started intentionally shooting his teammates.

(and although I say Dead Rising -- if you wanted it to be more educational for a zombie apocalypse, you could make the story more like I Am Legend (the short story, not the movie).

Re:I'm feeling this one! (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26172951)

And the theme music would be "Re: Your brains".

Re:I'm feeling this one! (1)

specific (963862) | more than 5 years ago | (#26174089)

Decatur, aka The Dec, as referred to here in The A, aka Atlanta, is already a first person shooter replete with BFG's, gun-rape, tea bagging, & the like. Stone Mountain, however, is the area with the highest rate of doing chickens per capita.

Virtual Mayor. (2, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170407)

"GamePolitics reports that Decatur, Georgia is looking into the development of a virtual environment to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development in the city."

The Sims meets Sim City.

Meanwhile, the entire neighbourhood is whimpering (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170897)

Well, there will be someone to try something like this [] .

*quote from above link:*
"Meanwhile, the entire neighbourhood is whimpering and standing in puddles of their own urine.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I don't really have to say anything else here, do I?"

And it has clowns!

Good luck with that. (5, Interesting)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170419)

Possible features of the proposed Virtual Decatur might include:

  • Opportunities to gather citizen input on policies, topics of interest, city services, and happenings
  • A Virtual City Hall Tour with multimedia capabilities.
  • Opportunities to earn coupons for use in real stores/retail establishments.
  • Streaming video of public meetings, ideally with a chat room feature that allows viewers to comment.
  • Access to visitors information (store hours, directions, weather, etc.)

This all assumes that the citizens in the community are anxiously and zealously awaiting the chance to partake in this experiment. From my perspective, most of the people who actually concern themselves with community matters are the ones who will view this project as a mere gimmick to be avoided. I understand the idea is to encourage more community involvement by appealing to the more tech-savvy generation, but I truly do not believe this will be the stunning success that the article seems to imply they want it to be.

Coupons can be obtained from a plethora of other sources (newspaper anyone?). Visitor's information would be best served on a standard web page. And streaming video? Nobody watches C-SPAN, and that's nation-wide. How many viewers are they expecting from a town of 20,000?

Re:Good luck with that. (1)

rendermaniac (688883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26171509)

Our local council streams it's planning meetings over the web. This is very useful if you can't attend in person (and you can do something else in the boring bits). But you're right - a 3d world is overkill. Static web pages convey this information much better - and most likely already exist in some form. If they really want to get citizens to be more involved then they should write some applications for facebook etc. and exploit a social network that already exists.

Re:Good luck with that. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26172371)

'Nobody' watches C-SPAN? Hyperbole at best. I know for a fact that people watch our city council on the public access channel. (Town of 40k or so.)
I love how Slashdot, supposedly the home of those eager to explore the 'new frontier' of the digital world - spends so much time scorning pretty much every attempt to use the internet to create a virtual world. Unless that virtual world is dedicated to file sharing.

Re:Good luck with that. (1)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26175585)

The point is that it's overkill, and it's the wrong solution to the problem. If people aren't involved in their community, throwing a virtual world at them isn't going to help. Or in Slashdot terms, repainting the exterior and changing the tires isn't going to help when the problem is with the engine.

Though you're right in that my "nobody" comment was pure hyperbole. It was supposed to be a subtle reference to the SNL skit in which the big 3 automaker CEOs claimed that "nobody watches C-SPAN" but I kinda failed on that front.

Re:Good luck with that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26175635)

I saw a Congressman once say, "And I am sure the millions of people watching C-SPAN at home will be outraged at---okay, well, there aren't THAT many people watching C-SPAN."

It's okay. They make fun of it, too.

Re:Good luck with that. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#26176597)

How is making the government accessible to the people overkill? How is it the wrong solution to your (undefined) problem? How is adding additional channels for people to get involved in their community not going to help?

The world is going is going digital and online - and the supposedly technically savvy and net literate Slashdot community does nothing but sit and make snarky and unsupported comments.

Re:Good luck with that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26175843)

We've actually tried virtual worlds, and generally found them pretty darned lacking.

Ew.. (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 5 years ago | (#26172555)

Second Georgia?


Re:Good luck with that. (1)

Shanoyu (975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26189973)

Nah, you misunderstand Decatur, which is actually part of Atlanta. Decatur disagrees with this notion despite being inside the perimeter, and therefore this is merely one of a number of attempts to be "different" and to distinguish itself as the odd child out-- which it's been trying to do pretty much since being the only town in Georgia to vote against secession during the civil war.

There are even more technological oddities in Decatur that make people want to become Amish, for instance pay parking that requires text messaging to use.

Sounded interesting until I heard..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26170427)

You'll be paid in virtual money.

"encourage community networking" (2, Insightful)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170489)

How about like, you know, networking with people in real life? There's too much virtual interaction as it is. I say as I type a comment on a website.

Re:"encourage community networking" (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26171489)

Actually the whole thing is pretty silly. As a virtual environment only develops an IP address and a bank of servers at a hosting service. To develop a town, now is the time to focus on life style, a well behaved responsive police force, easy access to public services and, a clean healthy environment.

Distance working is all about providing an hospitable socially interactive environment where remote workers can log out and tune into a comfortable easygoinglifestyle. People need to develop the idea of separating the servers and their tech orientated staff to creative staff who can be accessing those servers and crafting virtual environments from any where in the world and in terms of creativity not the low labour cost high crime environments but places worth living in. An escape from high stress and crime countries to more relaxed and easy going life styles that will stimulate and nurture creativity.

The usual meeting in virtual space. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26170599)

Advisor: "We could utilize more of the parkway over here on the map with the new sewer linkage, see right where I'm standing right now"
Treasurer: "I agree, that would save more funds than laying pipe all the way from Johnson St."
Secretary: "Haha, you said laying pipe"
Advisor: "Please stay on topic here guys this is serious meeting"
Treasuer: "Hey tell the Mayor to stop humping my character"
Advisor: "Thats not the mayor, thats the Lead engineer"
Mayor: "Yeah you dumb prick, I'm the pink pony with chariot wheels for an ass"
Treasurer: "I apologize sir. Hey whats with you Secretary? Your lagging like hell"
Secretary: "Dude my torrent of this wicked sweet pr0n just capped at 1Mbs!!!11!!"
Registrar: "Since this is all online, isn't my job redudnant?"
Mayor: "..."
Lead engineer: "Ohh damn, wicked burn!! lolzzz!!11 If you need me I'll be at the hardware store."

Broadcast msg to Residents of Decatur;
Georgia Town Hall unanmiously votes in a new Secretary and Lead Engineer. Also, all pink ponys with chariot asses are hearby banned as 'there can only be one'.
If anyone still has information regarding Jims Hardware store being re-coded as a child porn haven, your help is greatly appreciated.

As if... (0, Troll)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26170625)

It's not already one of the most obeste states in the 2nd most obese nation (thanks Australia).

Even more reason not to go get up and talk to your neighbors.

metaverse anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26170809)

until we have internet ala futurama this is not going to take. we need a breakthrough in human-computer interfaces otherwise this is as much a failure as the virtual mall

In Other News... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26171593)

... Russia has just laid out plans to build a similar on-line community.

This seems like a horrible idea. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26171609)

Isn't setting up a virtual version of your city for "civic interaction" tantamount to admitting that the real one is so far from that objective that setting up a virtual one is easier than fixing the real one? I'm all for electronic communication methods, they are loads of fun and sometimes useful; but why would I want my real city to be busy building a fake city when it should be working on the real one?

Now, in the future, I can imagine certain uses of a non-sucky virtual city, see "plot" section here [] .

Re:This seems like a horrible idea. (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 5 years ago | (#26172299)

I think it's a great idea. I look forward to hanging out at the Brickstore pub from the comfort of my own home.

Matrix? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26172689)

This is too Matrix-esque. What is the point of a MMO for local functions? Why can't people just get off their ass and go down to town hall?

Waste of Money (1)

buback (144189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26172743)

There have got to be some roads that need to be paved, or the library could always use more books.
At most, a small town needs a well organized and moderated forum. maybe throw in some social networking juju, but avatars?

There are some successful virtual worlds out there, which, despite their success, I have no interest in visiting. Their effort will be crappy, buggy, pointless, and empty.

The only use I could imagine using this for would be to walk down, virtually, to the mayors house and scream obscenities at it. Add to that a swarm of flying penises and maybe they've won me over.

Healthy Gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26173499)

More news on health and exercise related video games: []

I cannot believe no one has said this.... (1)

davidee (737143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26173645)

Snowcrash ... and if independent states or countries would have a virtual environment it could be pretty cool. I really can't think of existing tech that could make that level of (referencing the book) immersion possible but still it is an interesting thought.

russia (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#26174223)

I hope Russia doesn't take them over in VR too! :P

Second Life Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26174765)

I'm suprised that nobody here has mentioned Second Life as a viable option. It has the ability to host all of the requirements listed above.

1) It's a 3D virtual MMO, that allows for custom content creation, allowing for the virtual recreation
2) It has its own scripting language, allowing for some form of coupon system to integrate into their databases.
3) It allows for streaming video and web content

Now it may not be the most rock solid platform around, but AFAIK its the only MMO thats actually going to be able to live up to these requirements.

Project Wonderland - FOSS from Sun (1)

mounthood (993037) | more than 5 years ago | (#26174875)

It's FOSS and working today. []

Project Wonderland is a 100% Java and open source toolkit for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds. Within those worlds, users can communicate with high-fidelity, immersive audio, share live desktop applications and documents and conduct real business. Wonderland is completely extensible; developers and graphic artists can extend its functionality to create entire new worlds and new features in existing worlds.

Please be more specific (1)

Aramgutang (620327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26178673)

Editors, please, be more specific when mentioning Georgia, and clarify if you're referring to the country or the state.

To me and most people around me, the title "City In Georgia Planning Virtual World For Civic Interaction" suggests that the article is about an impoverished city in the Caucasus trying to use technology to better preserve its ancient heritage during new architectural developments.

Kaneva is based in Atlanta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26181287)

I'd bet that it's no coincidence that Decatur is located within an easy commute to Kaneva's offices in Atlanta.

Ive got a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26198321)

World of Craigslist

Oh great, just what we need. (1)

Randym (25779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26221283)

Watered down Second Life. Without the 'fun'.

An interesting use for Photosynth (1)

Randym (25779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26221311)

Search for local pictures, and, from those, you'd have a nice build of the local scene pretty quickly. You might end up with something like the virtual city in "The City and the Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke. That had the ability for the user to move back and forth in time; that feature could be implemented here too.

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