Four and a half years on from joining VU.CITY, I sit here reflecting on what we have all achieved and contemplating the work that remains to be done.
With the support of our existing investors Savills and GIA Surveyors, and the new investment from Ramboll, a leading global engineering and design consultancy, we now have the capacity to deliver on these future plans and to achieve something truly ground-breaking in the world of visual communication of change in our towns and cities; helping our Public and Private Sector customers deliver the best possible cities for all.
The ability to access Ramboll’s knowledge as designers, architects, engineers and consultants working all over the world to deliver resilient and liveable cities will be of huge benefit to our customers and the citizens we all serve.
With what VU.CITY has already achieved through the support of our existing Public, Private and Academic customers I feel confident that the world is now ready to accept the step change that technology can offer in this area. Today we have 30 of the 33 London authorities subscribing to our platform and a further 28 public bodies across the UK and Ireland using the tool to help understand and communicate change in their areas. And with the UK government pushing for more digitisation around planning reform and two rounds of digital engagement funds, change is now happening, which was not the case when we embarked on this adventure.
As with any significant change, there are always people nervous about a future they cannot fully grasp and moving to new ways of doing things is uncomfortable, but one of the few positives that has come out of Covid is people’s willingness to try new things and our community’s readiness to turn to technology to facilitate collaboration and improve decision-making.
And it is not all about the tech. As a company we have worked hard building trust between the Private, Public, Academic and Third sectors, recognising the power of collaboration throughout the process of change across all stakeholders. We are now seeing our platform being used between and across all sectors to help deliver clearer representations of proposed change; helping to show and understand the constraints within which all parties need to work; and allowing people the freedom to interrogate this information in real time from many different perspectives.
Expansion & access to the best functionality & data
We want to develop our solution to open up the platform to other geographies and industries. Our goal is to support any location or industry that requires accurate visual representations of the built environment to communicate change. And we do not plan to do this as a monopoly. We are already well into our programme to open up the assets of the solution to other software developers and data / model providers. Removing us as the constraint to scaling the benefits to users around the world rapidly. By allowing our 3rd party partners to offer their solutions on a “marketplace” we believe we can reach our vision of supporting the best possible cities for all, much quicker and further empower our customers with the many great technologies that already exist.
However this does not mean the end of new innovative functionality from VU.CITY, we have an exciting roadmap of features to come to help our customers realise their design and planning potential.
Truly inclusive engagement
We believe that it is imperative to not only cater for those that approve change and those that propose change, but also the citizens who are the true stakeholders of these changes. With a commercial model that already works for those that propose and approve change, our goal is to ensure that these “stories of change” can be seen and engaged with by the citizens at no cost. We read countless case studies of how better designs are produced with the early engagement of the local communities and for us, this is the final piece to the VU.CITY jigsaw. We already have various solutions being developed with our partner network and are excited about what this can enable in the future.
A wise man once said to me that people are willing to accept decisions, even if they are not in their personal best interest as long as they feel that the decision was taken by following a fair process. Imagining physical change in three dimensions and in context through the use of two dimensional static imagery and lots of numbers and paperwork is challenging even for the most skilled specialists and hardly fair for all parties - having this change represented in a 3D interactive model coupled with visually presented information on constraints and impact brings us much closer to that fair process of all party engagement and collaboration with the ultimate goal of the best possible city for all.
Since VU.CITY’s inception we’ve been used by pioneering architects, developers, planners and local authorities who have used VU.CITY to help deliver the best buildings for the future of our cities.
Thank you for trusting in the VU.CITY vision, what we have achieved is only the start of our shared adventure and I can't wait to see what the future brings for us all.
More on this investment:
To read more about this investment in City AM click here.