Knowledge, Technology & Policy

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 62–85 | Cite as

Building the virtual city: Public participation through e-democracy

  • Andrew Hudson-Smith
  • Stephen Evans
  • Michael Batty


In this paper, we outline how we have developed a series of technologies that enable planning information to be disseminated to affected citizens so that professionals and politicians can engage with these stakeholders in realizing more effective plans. Our main theme is based on the generic idea of the “virtual city” which is conceived in terms of the geography and geometry of the real city. This is a digital representation using a variety of software and multimedia, made interactively available over the web. We begin with a brief comment on different types of virtual city and then summarize the key problems of using such virtualities in public participation, more recently considered as part of the e-democracy movement. We outline our previous attempts to engage in such online participation in east London for these have been an essential prerequisite to the development of “Virtual London,” the application reported here which is currently being fashioned for widespread dissemination of planning information by the Greater London Authority (GLA). We then argue that virtual cities should go well beyond the traditional conceptions of 3D GIS and CAD into virtual worlds and online design. But we also urge caution in pushing the digital message too far, showing how more conventional tangible media is always necessary in rooting such models in more realistic and familiar representations.


Virtual Reality Virtual World Public Participation Propolis Digital Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Hudson-Smith
    • 1
  • Stephen Evans
  • Michael Batty
  1. 1.the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA)University College London (UCL)UK

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