Georgia City Wants to Develop a Virtual World Interface

Uh, I’d like to pay my property tax, sign up for trash collection and could the police department do something about that Orc who lives around the corner?

Well, it’s not quite like that, but the City of Decatur, Georgia is evaluating the use of a virtual world interface to "encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development."

The project even has a name: Virtual Decatur.

A website devoted to Virtual Decatur references Second Life and World of Warcraft, although not necessarily as models. From the site:

Virtual Decatur will provide an environment in which residents, businesses, institutions and visitors can interact and connect…  it is it is imperative that the project go beyond the features of traditional virtual environments.  The overarching purpose of this project is to allow users to interact with the City in new and innovative ways that are not possible in the real world.

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.)

A Request for Information (RFI) is available for download, with proposals due by February 13th. Among other requirements, the city expects Virtual Decatur to be "avatar-based" as well as "fun and intuitive."

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  1. 0
    JustChris says:

    If they want to do a virtual city, I think they would save time piggybacking on Google’s street view feature. At least for the city exploration part. And then add on the interactive landmarks in their own discretion. Google provides development tools to integrate these features into another site, so why reinvent the wheel?

  2. 0
    bgmnt says:

    The Virtual Decatur Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line January 4th, 2009. Human decisions are removed from municipal planning. Virtual Decatur begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, January 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

    And Virtual Decatur fights back.

  3. 0
    BluePariah says:

    I work for an IT company that provides services to cities in GA and I have to say that Decatur is one the more innovative cities around. They are very liberal and its reflected in their policy. Beyond Virtual Decatur, they’re also about to implement a municipal wireless program. Not everyhting like this will work, but its nice to see them experimenting when its difficult to get many cities to even see the value in backing up thier data.

    And to be clear, Decatur is anything but a rural redneck city. it’s essentially a part of Atlanta and its one of the hipper, more laid back, artsy neighborhoods. I used to take tango lessons there a while back and they have one of the best bars in the country in terms of beer slection – The Brick.


  4. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    I think it’s a great idea.  You could explore your neighbourhood and see your neighbours as they want to portray themselves, and without the natural reticence that comes from the need for privacy in the real world.

  5. 0
    finaleve says:

    The idea of it sounds great, but you know that people are going to abuse it to death.  Not only people within the town, but the internet itself.

    I think if they focus more on a forum concept, if you will.  In that way, they can contribute polls and the basics and see where it goes from there.

  6. 0
    Dunklekuh81 says:

    Decatur? Why Decatur? Decatur’s only a suburb of Atlanta, and it’s not a very exciting place. Anyways, they already made a game similar to this. Ever hear of Redneck Rampage?

  7. 0
    Doomsong says:

    This will be great… until they institute the PvP system (you just know that everyone will roll Horde)

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" – Benjamin Franklin

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