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Virtual Rooms: welcome to the future of community consultation

Lockdowns and restrictions may have made them a necessity, but their countless benefits are set to make them the new normal when it comes to community consultation and engagement.

We’re talking about virtual event, conferencing and meeting rooms: 3D ‘smart spaces’ that can be used for public consultations, project presentations, design showcasing, remote events, training/demonstrations. The tool can be used by community planning consultants like Sweco, and by governments, local leaders, architects or facilities managers who want to engage regularly with end users and other stakeholders.

What is a virtual meeting room?

Virtual meeting room hosts can display image galleries, written information, video and downloadable files and more in a remote digital space which can be accessed easily on laptops, tablets and smartphones. All on demand, at a time that suits the end user.

Events no longer need to be limited to specific times and the common challenges of accessibility, parking, insurance, catering, staffing and time-consuming set-up and take-down are all a thing of the past. This increasingly popular digital concept will maximise attendance and engagement – and in turn help us all create better buildings, urban areas and landscapes for those who live in or use them.

Ultimately, it is a quicker and more cost-effective way of consulting with our communities and embracing the digital world we live in. Virtual consultations allow people to access information from the comfort of their own home on their smartphone. Functionality also allows communities to organise both virtual and face to face meetings with the project teams (if required) and leave feedback on proposals and designs. This means users can still speak to key project team members at key points in the process if they wish to, which ultimately keeps the community engaged.

Why host from a virtual room?

  • Sustainable and climate-friendly – no need to produce physical materials and eliminates unnecessary travel
  • Customisable 3D spaces for an immersive, interactive experience – Reach out to the whole community and use digital tools to cater for additional needs
  • Create a bespoke, branded room – add a unique ‘digital décor’ or use standard space templates that can ‘grow’ with any project
  • Easily export analysis on visit durations, content viewed and more – trackable analytics for learning and improving
  • Include images, text, GIS, videos, voiceovers and more – access more options than with physical spaces might offer
  • Add downloadable content – make each room an easy-to-use resource without the need to create physical brochures and other materials
  • Upload forms and surveys – streamline the collection of feedback through one simple digital  portal
  • Link visitors to live chat or other contact methods – online platform allows instant feedback and opinion gathering
  • Make events more inclusive – with no time, travel or accessibility barriers events will be more diverse and therefore more valuable as a consultancy exercise
  • Stay GDPR compliant – simple opt-in processes are built in, removing what can be time consuming logistics of physical data capture/protection
  • Offer reassurance – peace of mind as we gradually emerge from pandemic and associated social anxieties

SmartSpace by Sweco is just one of the innovative tools we’re implementing in our mission to ‘transform society together’.
We understand that the more we and our clients can connect with communities – especially in a COVID-sensitive world – the more we can move our conversations towards better outcomes. Contact our virtual rooms team using the form below to discuss how your next community consultation could benefit – and ask for examples of our latest spaces.