The Digital Government group at the General Services Administration has created a community focused on the implementation of virtual and augmented reality technology in government settings.
Many agencies have already started experimenting with the technology. NASA is using it for data visualization and the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun looking into VR's potential for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. But starting these programs can be difficult, and 2017 will be about making adoption easier, said Justin Herman, the VR and artificial intelligence communities lead for GSA.
When an agency wants to adopt a new technology, it must create policy development resources, show performance metrics and sometimes conduct a pilot. GSA hopes this community network of industry experts and thought leaders will be a resource for sharing, developing and implementing strategies.
VR offers “immersive storytelling” opportunities that have proven themselves in entertainment, but can also thrive in government, according to Jordan Higgins, the creative director at ByteCubed, a consulting firm specializing in innovative technologies.
“There’s definitely an immersive storytelling aspect to it and a training aspect of it, but where I think the real excitement is going to come is when it actually becomes” part of your day-to-day job, Higgins said, pointing to VR conference calls as a possible example.
The applications will provide a better sense of scale and perspective than can be achieved by a picture or screen, Higgins said. Use cases presented at a recent GSA VR workshop featured job training opportunities, which he said could decrease training costs for agencies.
Herman said GSA wants to host a VR hackathon by early spring.
“We’re trying to take a very aggressive approach to developing this because it is easy to table things and spend your time talking about it.” he said.