Betaville is Open-Sourcing Urban Planning

Just as every person should have a say in how their government works, so should every resident have a voice in creating his community’s built environment. Buildings, roads, parks, art installations, etc, comprise the concrete fabric of daily life in a given community — and yet, thus far, there have been few elegant ways for the average citizen to register his vote on what all of it should look like.

In smaller towns, citizens can attend town hall meetings, and vote directly on major changes to the community. In larger cities, there are avenues by which it’s possible to attempt the same, but the process can be complex and off-putting to the layman. And the sheer number of new projects that arise in cities like New York can overwhelm residents, and leave folks with the impression that they have no voice.

Enter Betaville, an open-source urban planning program that could change the entire process by which architectural projects move from design to reality — by offering local communities a better way to envision proposed changes, and an opportunity to give more of their input in a simpler manner than ever before. Betaville renders, in 3D, the entire community; in the prototype version of the software, this is lower Manhattan. Floating icons denote newly proposed projects, and users can click on them to see what it would look like if it were implemented. The rendering above is a radical plan to add pier-like parks to the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

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