What if buildings could help leaders fight crime, poverty, disease, hunger?

This is the theory of an American computer scientist, Bret Victor. He believes that governments should build ‘seeing rooms’, modelled on NASA Mission Control, to provide real time data on problems like Covid-19, economic data or crime hotspots.

Some governments are already following this vision. West Java Government, Indonesia, has launched a ‘Command Center’, which it uses as its Covid-19 response hub. It also houses the Jabar Digital Service.

Explore this complex in 3D Virtual Reality below! We recommend that you play this handy audio tour:

Now open the tour. There are interactive exhibits created within for GovInsider’s Indonesia summit.

West Java has a population of 48 million people, a fifth of the population of Indonesia and twice the size of Australia. Indonesia’s federated structure devolves a vast amount of powers to the provinces, including budgetary powers, healthcare, education and law and order.

It is home to Indonesia’s best ranked universities, and major cities including Bandung, which is known as ‘the Paris of Java’.

The concept of ‘seeing rooms’ is gaining prominence elsewhere. The Chief of Staff to the British Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, has written that applying Victor’s ideas would “would radically improve how people make decisions in government”.

Victor has also launched a series of experiments under the name Dynamic Land that explore embedding computing equipment within surfaces themselves. Tables, windows, walls can also be used for computer information and to explore different scenario options in real time.

Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus once declared “I found Rome a city of bricks, and left it a city of marble.” Perhaps a modern leader should instead leave a City Hall of Liquid Crystal Displays?

The West Java Command Center may point them in the right direction.

This Virtual Reality tour was first built for GovInsider Live Indonesia on 7 July 2020 and contains ‘gemstones’ that participants could collect as part of an interactive game. It also features exhibitors at the online summit.