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Virtual Birmingham


An image of virtual birmingham in the second life environment


Virtual Birmingham aims to promote the use of virtual technologies such as 2D/3D mapping, web 2.0 and virtual worlds to discover their future potential and capabilities for enabling partners to deliver better services and citizens and residents to experience the city in many dimensions. In doing so Virtual Birmingham will promoting Birmingham as a leading centre of digital excellence.

What is a Virtual World?

An image from Virtual Birmingham in Second Life. An avatar looking at a map of birmingham on a screen.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to experience and interact sometimes via the use of avatars.

There are a wide variety of virtual worlds each of which has its own unique competencies. These range from the 2D Google Maps to the immersive 3D environment of Second Life.

What can Virtual Worlds offer Birmingham?

Digital Birmingham is leading discussions with partners to explore the many dimensions of how Birmingham can be represented and promoted in a 3D virtual environment such as Second Life, which would address specific business needs. These needs include focuses on the visitor economy, attracting inward investment and putting Birmingham 'on the map'.

Through a Virtual Birmingham:

  • Visitors could browse Birmingham's attractions, amenities, hotel locations, car parking to obtain a real familiarity with what's on and the city's attractions prior to their visit.
  • Residents could use the virtual environment to access local services alongside commercial services and retail transactions or collaborate on interactive tasks and services.
  • Businesses would be able to promote their services.
  • Event organisers would be able to virtually survey venues and surroundings, utilising the virtual city as a tool for the initial stages of event planning or use it to showcase exhibitions and displays.
  • Organisations would be able to host virtual events in the virtual world so that for example the Birmingham City University Conservatoire could host performances that would be accessible online.

Towards a Virtual Birmingham - This paper by Birmingham Virtual Worlds Developer, Daden Limited, presents some initial ideas and analysis as to how Birmingham could take advantage of the emerging technology of virtual worlds.

Virtual Birmingham Activity:

The b-scape logoTo demonstrate the potential of virtual world technologies, Digital Birmingham commissioned the development of b-scape.
b-scape is an interactive access portal to Birmingham's city centre in the virtual world and exploits state-of-the-art mash-ups to pull various types of different information about Birmingham together in one easy to access location

Birmingham Island

Birmingham Island has been created within the virtual world, Second Life and currently accommodates b-scape and four distinct interactive information pods. These pods each have a specific focus:

1. Digital Birmingham - providing details of the partnership, its aims and various projects;
2. An introduction to b-scape and how to use its application;
3. The Library of Birmingham - providing information about the physical development and a wealth of resources about current library services and collections ; and
4. An events / gallery space.

In the long term, Birmingham Island will also be home to Birmingham's Virtual Library, which is being developed in conjunction with the new Library of Birmingham. This exciting project will be launched in the coming months.

Future Work

Digital Birmingham is collaborating with a number of partners across the city and region to take forward Virtual Birmingham.

Partners currently pursuing virtual world activities include Birmingham City Council on exciting projects including the new Library of Birmingham and the city's BEST initiative; the University Hospital Birmingham; and Birmingham City University.

If you are interested in connecting to this initiative or finding out more, please

Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative and part of a city wide strategic partnership of more than 40 public, private and voluntary organisations

eGovernment National Awards - Winner 2008