UF Senior Vice President and METL Discuss How VR Can Help Make Gainesville the “New American City”

Can virtual reality (VR) help make Gainesville the "New American City?" The METL met with university and city leaders to discuss the potential for collaborations that contribute to growth and social good.


METL hosted Charlie Lane, Senior Vice President and Chief Operation Officer at the University of Florida, and Dan Hoffman, Assistant City Manager of Gainesville, for a lab demo on Tuesday, July 31st. The meeting addressed the combined vision of University and City leadership, which seeks to make Gainesville “The New American City.” As part of UF’s Strategic Development Plan, both groups are working towards not only making UF excel as an institution, but also supporting and strengthening the Gainesville community in many ways over the next 50 years. Many of the ideas discussed addressed how new media technology, namely virtual reality (VR), can help manifest this long-term vision for the city.

While VR remains a buzz word in pop culture, the impetus for its consideration as a strategic tool was the recent success of the VR for Social Good (VRSG) initiative. A joint project by Dr. Sri Kalyanaraman (Journalism) and Dr. Ben Lok (Computer Science), VRSG represents the symbiotic relationship between campus and community that can help bring about creative solutions to city-wide issues. VRSG is a project-based class where teams of UF students at all levels learn to build VR simulations for real-world clients seeking to solve issues related to a social good initiative. Since its launch in the summer of 2017, which featured an enrollment of around a dozen students, the course is now entering its fourth semester, and has over 120 students currently enrolled for the Fall. In previous semesters, projects have used VR to help architects create inclusive designs, improve driver safety, and more.

Discussions on potential partnerships are on-going, and will continue throughout the year.

For more information on UF’s Strategic Development Plan, visit: https://strategicdevelopment.ufl.edu/about/

For more information on the VR for Social Good initiative, visit: www.vrforthesocialgood.com

Posted: August 1, 2018
Category: Demo, Guest