The globally available tool has been created by Aecom to allow clients to continue driving public engagement with their projects.

“In the face of unprecedented challenges, it was critical that we create a seamless digital environment to visualise projects, meet virtually and bring communities together in partnership with our clients around the world,” said Kevin Carlson, Aecom’s global lead for digital transformation.

Through the new platform, a virtual event can be personalised to show consultation materials including virtual reality and sound demonstrations, videos, maps, plans and pop-up banners. The tool allows for instant feedback so public reaction can be captured and saved for analysis. There is also a chat function so on-hand experts can answer questions as visitors look around the materials, in a similar manner to what would take place during an in-person event.

Aecom consultation tool

“We already use a number of digital tools during our community engagement sessions such as visualisations, sound demonstrations and interactive apps, so it makes complete sense to bring them together on a digital platform,” said Andy Thomas, Aecom’s head of visualisation and virtual reality in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. “The use of digital engagement tools enables stakeholders and communities to understand proposals, allowing them to provide an informed response and participate in the consultation process. This tool will allow that process to reach a wider audience, allowing more widespread buy-in for major infrastructure projects.”

Aecom clients East Lothian Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Public Health England and the US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, have signed up to use the public consultation tool.

“Using this web-based tool, clients can engage with a wider audience and communicate the impact and benefits of proposed schemes to communities without people leaving their own homes,” said James Sachon, Aecom’s technical director of the stakeholder engagement team. “This remote approach to stakeholder engagement during the coronavirus pandemic provides our clients and partners with a resilient solution to any consultation process.”