May 7, 2021

How to help immersive tech be a reality for public services

Liz O’Driscoll
4 min
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a growth in demand for technology, we explore the potential of enhancing public services with different technologies
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a growth in demand for technology, we explore the potential of enhancing public services with different technologies...

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen both citizen appetite for technology grow and new ways to engage communities and provide essential services remotely. With the pace of change continuing to accelerate, we explored the potential for Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (XR) to enhance public services in Perspectives*.

Far from being science fiction, we found multiple examples where immersive tech is already making a positive impact. From virtual training for medical professionals and enriched learning experiences for children, through to remote assistance for housing tenants and improved data visualisation for city planners, we highlighted the many cases that already exist across our public services.

We believe these technologies have the potential to enhance how we access and deliver the public services of today and tomorrow. But as with all technologies, the key question is how we can turn it from an idea into action. To help, we spoke to leaders and innovators, and following on from our Perspectives* Live event, we’ve outlined three key steps to help make it a reality.

1. Focus on the problem to solve

It’s often too easy to focus on the coolest, newest technology, rather than really thinking about what it can do and who can it help. As a starting point, it’s important to look at the problem we want to solve, and then find the best technologies to help. 

We need to build a compelling use case.  After all, “Technology without a use case is just a toy,” as Miranda Sharp from the Digital Built Britain perfectly summed up during one of our roundtables. It’s hard to justify investment in toys in the long-term, so a clear citizen need and problem that we want to solve is the key starting point for bringing any new tech, including immersive technologies, to use.

For example, one challenge might be to improve citizen engagement with city planning, or how a housing tenant can perform essential repairs remotely. The good news is that for these questions and more, we’ve seen immersive technologies as a solution. 

During the pandemic, the London Legacy Development Corporation used immersive tech to enable all citizens to play an active role in planning consultation. They found the technologies made the process more accessible and facilitated a better democratic voice from all citizens.  While in Scotland, Kingdom Housing Association didn’t let the lockdown prevent essential repairs for tenants. Rather, they used AR to help tenants carry out routine repairs with remote assistance from the housing provider.

2. Strengthen the foundations

Many new technologies, including AR and VR, rely on strong foundational infrastructures such as cloud being in place. During COVID-19, we have seen a further spike in public service cloud consumption, with Gartner predicting it will grow by a further 18% this year alone.

But it’s not just about stronger tech foundations. We need to build stronger trust too.. For public services and citizens to use immersive technologies with more confidence, improved data governance and ethics will be important. And when managed correctly, better data visualisation using immersive tech can provide better insight to make a genuine difference in outcomes as one leader highlighted during our discussions.

Stronger foundations can also enhance experiences and deliver better outcomes. In Zurich, jurors are being immersed in crime scenes to better visualise all the available evidence in the reconstructed virtual environment. But it doesn’t stop there. Sydney University also highlighted how the tech could help reduce public concerns over bias hindering the fair administration of justice.

3. Take everyone on the journey

When we think about the uptake of any new technologies, accessibility and inclusion will always be important.  Starting with accessibility, the connection of AR/VR with the gaming world has created a perception that it’s only accessible through large, and often expensive, hardware. 

But immersive services are easily accessible using everyday devices. We’ve seen this with great success in schools with students being teleported to new and exciting places via their smartphones. To help with uptake, Hugh Sullivan at Immersity highlighted that the big focus area should be on, “Democratising VR, AR and XR in a way that everyone can access these kinds of experiences.” The more we can do to lower the barriers to entry by using everyday devices, and ensuring immersive services don’t need the latest hardware to run, will help make them more accessible to all.

But it’s also just as important that these services are designed as inclusive by default. New services should be developed with the needs of everyone in mind to prevent technology become exclusive.

Immersive tech also brings another great levelling opportunity. Tony Colson from Sense described it as being able to, “Flip the experience. Rather than us trying to give people the experience of our world, we should experience theirs.” Immersive tech opens new avenues for designers to simulate how groups with disabilities access services or even physical spaces. By experiencing their world, we can better understand and create public services that include everyone.

Immersive technologies are here and they are going to revolutionise how we build and deliver services. Some sectors have made a fantastic start and we’ve seen very positive outcomes for citizens. But now is the time for more public service organisations to truly make it a reality.

 By Liz O’Driscoll, Head of Innovation, Civica  

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Jul 30, 2021

The Ultimate Enterprise Technology & AI & Cyber LIVE Event

3 min
New speakers announced for Technology & AI & Cyber LIVE Event, where innovation meets implementation, coming to you live from London

Do you want to build high-level relationships, gain insider knowledge and leave with the tools you need to drive effective digital transformation within your business? Then you don’t want to miss out on the must-attend hybrid event of 2021 for leaders in forward-thinking enterprises.

At Technology, AI, and Cyber Live, you will be able to hear and engage with C-Level executives at Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, Capgemini, and more.

Order your tickets now to take advantage of our limited-time Early Bird offer. 


How can you attend?


In the post-Covid era, not everybody wants to travel for events. So Technology & AI will be completely hybrid. That means you can attend the event in person or virtually, with no disadvantages to people who don’t make the trip to the Tobacco Dock.


Technology and AI Live is happening in the Tobacco Dock in London, a ten-minute walk from Tower Bridge. For more information on the location, click here


There’s no need to worry about missing out if you choose not to attend in person. You can still absorb all the information, interact with other attendees and enjoy the conference experience on our virtual platform. 

There will be live feeds from all of the stages (also available on-demand after the event) as well as virtual networking areas. So not being able to travel is no reason to miss your chance to gather with the industry.



New Speakers


Sunil Ramakrishnan

Vice President at CGI

Sunil has over 20 years of experience in consulting and helping energy and oil and gas clients transform into digital and sustainability leaders. He has also helped organisations across the energy, oil and gas, chemicals, renewables, and manufacturing industries realise business value from their investments using cloud, artificial/augmented intelligence, data science, internet of things, industry 4.0, robotic process automation, cybersecurity, and hyper-automation.

He has substantial experience in the information technology industry gained working at IBM Global Business Services, KPMG Management Consulting, Sapient, and Infosys. 


Lauren Barrett Knausenberger 

Chief Information Officer at Department of the Air Force

Lauren Barrett Knausenberger is the Chief Information Officer for the Department of the Air Force, including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. She leads two directorates and supports 20,000 cyber operations, and supports personnel around the globe with a portfolio valued at $17 billion. 

She provides oversight of the Air Force’s Information Technology portfolio, including the Information Technology investment strategy from networks to cloud computing, Enterprise policies, information resources management, IT innovation initiatives, information assurance, and related matters for the Department of the Air Force. 


Keri Gilder

CEO at Colt Technology Services

Appointed CEO in May 2020, Keri is responsible for executing Colt’s strategy, which centres around transforming the way the world works through the power of connectivity. Before becoming CEO, Keri was Colt’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), leading global teams across sales, presales and marketing. Passionate about promoting Inclusion and Diversity, she also leads Colt’s Diversity Council to ensure Colt is a business where everyone feels they can bring their true selves to work. We look forward to hearing her insights. 

Order now to make the most of our early-bird offer. Ticket prices increase over 50% soon! For tickets and information, head over to our event site.

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