The concept of augmented reality emerged and was described as the great paradigm shift awaited in the world of computing, This is a metaphor for the kind of radical changes that the Internet and smartphones will bring about in this area. Leading global technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Snapchat and Apple have been at the forefront of booking a large share in harnessing digital augmented reality. For example, Tim Cook said, Apple CEO: "A large percentage of developed countries and in the end all developed countries will have augmented reality experiences every day. It's going to become part of reality like eating three meals a day."
Augmented reality is an interaction between a set of overlapping elements that include data, graphics, audio clips, and other augmented sensory material that depends on a real environment and takes place in the real world – the world we actually live in. The world we work in and in which people roam every day. Augmented reality should not be confused with virtual reality; the latter puts the user in an innovative, unreal and intangible world. The augmented reality experience is simple but powerful and impactful as it relies on contextual, visual, and sometimes in-depth emotional content.
How will this next major shift affect governments and governance? The concept of virtual reality dates back to the nineties at least, That's when researchers from Boeing coined the concept of "augmented reality." Many would argue that augmented reality technologies appeared much earlier. However, the success and flourishing of key elements of augmented reality in the digital age is just beginning.
Smart Infrastructure and IoT. With the rise of internet networks and the emergence of the long-awaited Internet of Things, smart and connected infrastructures have proliferated in cities and countries at an accelerated pace. This is reflected in the adoption of many services and facilities such as roads, power grids, water systems, buildings, public utilities, communication networks, cars, homes, etc. on smart technologies more day by day. The number of connected devices in 2016 reached more than 6.4 billion, and this number is expected to increase 5-10-fold over the next four to five years. These smart infrastructures and the vast amount of physical and specific data they generate will give us the tools and means we need to employ augmented reality in the government sector. This may have become the main concern of all countries in the world, as evidenced by the "smart city" initiatives and challenges launched by the European Union, India, China, the United States of America and most recently Canada (Canada announced the 2017 Smart City Challenge following the launch of the 2016 Smart City Challenge in the United States).
Data and data then data. Augmented reality can only deliver value and result in the government sector when it is based on real data; whether this data is available through open government data initiatives that are beginning to go viral, generated through sensor-based networks and infrastructures or by collecting vast amounts of unstructured data produced daily by cellular users, formal and informal networks growing from the sharing economy and more. Data sources are structured or unstructured. By combining smart infrastructure, big data and open data, government entities at all levels can begin to shape smart cities, smart solutions and connected platform solutions that result in providing people with integrated services and experiences and enabling employees to work in such an enhanced environment. Here, AR can be seen as a visual gateway to data across the public and private sectors, adding tremendous value to the data outlook as a kind of real government resource and asset.
Augmented reality technologies. Over the past few years, the basic software for augmented reality and most importantly the hardware capable of receiving augmented reality technologies have begun to take shape and finally emerge. These devices include:
- Mobile and mobile devices, Most notably, cellular phones, tablets, and mobile workforce devices are made for a specific purpose.
- Head level displays for windshields and visors.
- Overhead displays.
- Goggles, visors, helmets.
- Contact lenses and virtual retinal devices.
- Spatial screens.
- Other devices are under research and development.
Practical application of augmented reality
There are countless uses for virtual reality in the government sector, As with any new technical innovation, The potential of augmented reality depends on the skill, ingenuity and creative sense of its users. Here are some potential use cases – some of which are already in the pipeline or in the proof-of-concept phase – that provide a quick overview of the possibilities.
E-Governance: Engaging Individuals & E-Services. Imagine a world where you can access, view, and fill out any form or government request via a range of augmented reality devices – cell phones, smart glasses, desk screens, reading screens – with the possibility of using a full range of aids (voice, language translation, visual and graphic instructions, etc.). Imagine a world where the foundations of governance—including policies, regulations, regulatory frameworks, and legal documents—can be transformed into "living" physical documents that can interact with society and administrators via augmented reality-enabled devices. Imagine a world where society and businesses can "look" through augmented reality devices and even interact with augmented projects to see what planned government business projects will look like, such as highways, water and energy utilities, public parks, transmission lines, new stations, and more.
Asset Management and Maintenance. Imagine a municipal workforce that can efficiently and accurately preserve city assets – from street lights, cell towers and fire hydrants to water wells, shared stock and roads – using head-level head-up screens on maintenance vehicles, smart glasses, hat-mounted devices and other portable augmented reality devices. Imagine enhancing the reach and impact of highly valued experts, specialists and supervisors who are able to provide real-time guidance and leverage their technical expertise to help remote workers in the field via augmented reality technologies, such as audio, visual, data and sensors.
Emergency and Public Safety Services. Imagine firefighters and disaster first responders being able to roam through environments using emergency vehicles equipped with augmented reality screens at head level to provide road directions and real-time data about environmental and hazardous conditions in the place, as well as sensors that enable them to see objects and hear sounds through smoke, fire, under rubble, and in weather and other adverse conditions. Imagine disaster-specific augmented reality apps that provide visual and audio guidance to individuals seeking shelter, evacuation routes, or emergency assistance. Imagine real-time data-driven augmented reality applications that enable law enforcement officers to access location-related information and data about their vulnerability to dangerous situations via smart glasses, in-vehicle screens, and other wearable devices. Individuals and businesses can access certified geographic data on crime statistics and other environmental factors by pointing their cell phone at a specific building or street or they can obtain comprehensive data for the community as a whole.
Public Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability. Inspectors of all specialties – health, buildings, public safety, environmental quality, etc. – are able to "see" and interact with available data and information in real time, whether it is data about a particular facility, an agricultural area, a neighboring neighborhood or a district. Communities interested in promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle for their citizens can be connected to health facilities such as parks, entertainment, fresh agricultural markets, farms, and healthy community festivals. Thus, individuals can engage in beneficial activities such as walking, cycling and hiking to learn about resources that offer healthier or light-carbon options. Imagine a range of environmental quality detectors (air, water, land, etc.) equipped with augmented reality sensors that enable environmental health employees and individuals to make informed and immediate decisions about mobility, activities, and formal response.
Transportation and movement in cities. Imagine that this enhanced future enables you to see and connect to diverse transportation systems "visually" – from traditional highways, roads and railway infrastructure, to modern shared on-demand mobility services and active transport (e.g., walking and cycling). Public transport operators such as trains, buses and shared cars/buses will be equipped with augmented reality displays to provide useful information such as traffic accidents as they occur, transport schedules, route changes, customer needs, vehicle need for maintenance, and more. Also, imagine physical maps powered by augmented reality technologies that provide information about transportation systems so that users, whether visitors or residents, can see which transport network is recommended to use visually or even audio.
culture, Heritage & Tourism. The protection of heritage and cultures is a top priority across the world. One of the most prominent uses of augmented reality is to improve and enrich places such as historical buildings, castles, monuments, heritage sites, and others. Culturally important museums and buildings are ideal options for employing augmented reality information and rich content in relation to important artworks, artifacts, publications and more. Natural resources, including national parks, coasts, forests and water bodies, It can provide a rich learning experience if augmented reality technologies are used. At the same time, they can promote and monitor the proper use, protection and preservation of natural resources. All these activities from arts, culture, history and heritage can be combined to create augmented reality-based experiences for tourists and residents alike to enjoy.
The above examples of AR uses in the government sector are only a fraction of the already possible uses that are just emerging. In conclusion, We can say that augmented reality is a symbol of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the link between the real and digital worlds and certainly between the public and private sectors. Stay up to date with the latest developments in augmented reality globally so you can soon "see" the future of the government sector.