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Smart City Hof project: Virtual urban planning by citizens!

Bringing people closer to digitalization and the many opportunities it offers – that is the aim of the Hof district’s Smart City model project. The Smart City team is currently working together with Hof University of Applied Sciences on a virtual reality (VR) application. Citizens in the Hof district will soon have the opportunity to implement their own ideas on urban planning and sustainability in a virtual environment. To make this possible, Hof University of Applied Sciences is currently developing a virtual reality simulation for selected locations in the Hofer Land region as part of the Smart City program, which will also be able to run without internet access.

Designing your favorite places virtually and sustainably – a new simulation from Hof University of Applied Sciences will soon make this possible as part of the Hof district’s Smart City project; Image: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

Using VR glasses, citizens will be virtually transported to different places in the district of Hof, such as the Maxplatz in Rehau or the market square in Naila. There, they can digitally beautify “their square” by planting trees, greening roofs or placing benches and other street furniture, for example.

Through the VR application, we bring people into contact with the digital possibilities and make urban planning tangible.”

District Administrator Dr. Oliver Bär

This is because the effects of the changes can be experienced directly in virtual space. “For example, the shade provided by a tree after years of growth in the bright midday sun can of course be experienced immediately in the simulation,” explains Özgür Eren, the project team member responsible at Hof University of Applied Sciences.

For project manager Prof. Dr. René Peinl, Head of the Institute for Information Systems at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iisys), the issue of sustainability also plays a major role.

By actively addressing the topic of sustainable urban planning, we want to improve the population’s understanding of sustainable measures.”

Prof. Dr. René Peinl

Users should be able to implement at least five different measures to strengthen sustainability in the VR application. These include placing PV modules on the façades or roofs of public buildings, installing PV roofs for public parking spaces, playgrounds or street cafés, converting tiled roofs into green roofs as part of a sponge city concept or setting up water atomizers or water dispensers to alleviate the effects of summer heat in the city centre. The construction of charging stations for electric vehicles should also be able to be implemented virtually. “We want an application that is informative but also entertaining and that we can use well at various events, such as festivals and markets. The squares and towns will be selected in consultation with the respective municipalities with regard to the representativeness of the respective locations,” says Paul-Bernhard Wagner, Smart City project coordinator at the district of Hof.

In addition to visual changes, the simulation will also provide information via text and voice output – for example, on how much electricity can be generated with the individual measures, how planting affects the temperature or how much CO2 can be saved.

“With the VR glasses, we are bringing digitalization to the people and showing them new virtual perspectives. I would like to thank Hof University of Applied Sciences, with whom we have once again gained an innovative and strong partner from the region for our project.”

District Administrator Dr. Oliver Bär

The first opportunity to try out the VR glasses in a test version will be this Saturday (May 4, 2024) at the LFG-Con in the Freiheitshalle Hof. At the stand of the Smart City model project, interested parties will have the opportunity to experience the Hof region from new perspectives in spectacular 360-degree images. The complete application with all simulations will then be available from the fall.

Stefanie Schulze
Rainer Krauß

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