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SoCal City Uses Augmented Reality to Showcase Project

Residents in Culver City will get to experience an underground stormwater project in an AR experience designed to give them a better understanding of both the project and area.

Culver City and Trigger XR have teamed up to enhance a stormwater project by adding an interactive augmented reality experience.

Government agencies have been seeing the value of augmented and virtual reality for improved training and accessibility in recent years. Now, governments are launching innovative projects to help educate and engage residents. For Culver City, an infrastructure project’s signage will bring the project to life with an AR experience that educates the public on both the project itself and the city’s history.

The infrastructure project, the Culver Boulevard Realignment and Stormwater Capture Project, has two main components. Essentially, the stormwater project consists of an underground water reservoir, where water is treated and stored before being filtered and discharged back into the storm drain system. The project enables treatment of stormwater to advance the city’s water sustainability initiatives and protect Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay.

The infrastructure project’s total cost was about $20 million, and construction started in February 2020. The city came together with the West Basin Municipal Water District for an event in June 2022 to unveil the project to the public.

As is the case with many infrastructure projects, a big portion of the action would happen out of sight, motivating the project team to include “interpretive signage” that explains the purpose of the project through an interactive, virtual experience, according to Sean Singletary, the city’s senior civil engineer.

The AR experience will soon be available for visitors, who will be able to learn about the project by reading the information on the signs or by scanning the QR code to get deeper.

To design the experience, the city wanted to partner with a consultant to determine the best creative approach to the technology, Singletary explained. Ultimately, the city chose to partner with Trigger XR, and the approval to move forward with this company was granted by the City Council in October 2020.

As he detailed, Trigger helped the city realize its vision by integrating feedback from the city’s historian, stakeholders and elected officials.

“Our task was to educate the population in Culver City about this project and about Culver City as a whole,” said Gabriel Wyatt, the Trigger XR client producer who led the development for this project.

To achieve this, there were several topics of focus for the project: history, water, culture and ecology, and mobility.

The collaborative design process included the city’s team providing information, and the Trigger XR team creating imagery to accompany it. Wyatt said his team pitched a variety of concepts to the city, which led to the six experiences that were ultimately selected.

Soon, visitors will be able to scan the QR code from one of the four informational signs (focused on city history, water, mobility and ecology) to experience the augmented reality at the site of the project. In the meantime, the experiences can be accessed online.

This article first appeared in Government Technology, sister publication to Industry Insider — California.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.