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Commenced in January 2007 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Publications Count: 31181

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Virtual Reality for Mutual Understanding in Landscape Planning
This paper argues that fostering mutual understanding in landscape planning is as much about the planners educating stakeholder groups as the stakeholders educating the planners. In other words it is an epistemological agreement as to the meaning and nature of place, especially where an effort is made to go beyond the quantitative aspects, which can be achieved by the phenomenological experience of the Virtual Reality (VR) environment. This education needs to be a bi-directional process in which distance can be both temporal as well as spatial separation of participants, that there needs to be a common framework of understanding in which neither 'side' is disadvantaged during the process of information exchange and it follows that a medium such as VR offers an effective way of overcoming some of the shortcomings of traditional media by taking advantage of continuing technological advances in Information, Technology and Communications (ITC). In this paper we make particular reference to this as an extension to Geographical Information Systems (GIS). VR as a two-way communication tool offers considerable potential particularly in the area of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS). Information rich virtual environments that can operate over broadband networks are now possible and thus allow for the representation of large amounts of qualitative and quantitative information 'side-by-side'. Therefore, with broadband access becoming standard for households and enterprises alike, distributed virtual reality environments have great potential to contribute to enabling stakeholder participation and mutual learning within the planning context.
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