The Alexandria, Virginia-based group Public Decisions offers a variety of training materials and events on how to involve the public in public policy and social issues.
A longtime user of Internet conferencing technology for their training class, they have taken the leap and are sponsoring the online conference on “Using Virtual Reality for Stakeholder Engagement: An Online Conference in Second Life®” The one-day conference will be held on Thursday, July 16th, and feature a group deliberation on global warming, field trips to Second Life islands where “stakeholders are being actively engaged on issues related to land, air, or water quality,” and a panel discussion on the best practices for using Second Life. The conference is $75 with membership to their free “Circle Club,” or $35 for students.
Although requiring users to join and learn how to use a proprietary virtual world, Second Life is increasingly becoming a popular venue for conferences, including the one on education shown in the illustration.
With urban planners and other policymakers increasingly interested in using Second Life — or other immersive, 3D virtual reality environments — to support visualization and public engagement (such as the Hub2 project, or the Participatory Chinatown project some of my MAPC colleagues are working on), this topic will only increase in importance in the years to come.