Arizona State University, Cronkite School of Journalism is one of the 2017 winners of the Journalism 360 Challenge. See all the winners.
Our project is a Unity-based asset tool that will allow journalists/content developers to easily create location-based data visualizations for virtual reality viewing. The location-based nature of the tool is key. Normalized data can be imported into the tool that can then be mapped using the Google maps API to create colorful data visualizations that end users can see all around him or her based on location while using a headset.
Imagine wondering about crime, schools data or housing comps in a new neighborhood you are eyeing or where you currently are. You put on your headset and click on a VR app or project that one of the local innovative news outfits has created with local data using our tool. After selecting your current location or inputting the location of the neighborhood in which you are interested, you click on the sex offenders list and see a series of spheres all around you against a background that the journalists/developers have created or one of our default backgrounds. Each sphere – some closer to you and some further away – has a photo on it. You point your controller or gaze at a particular sphere and get basic information on the sex offender such as his/her address, date of conviction and a bit about the crime for which he was convicted.
After closing that data set, you search for information on local schools in your desired zip code, a series of cubes come up, each representing a school (with photo wrapped around it) with basic stats on the school. Meanwhile, the journalists/developers at the innovative newsroom are busy creating other data visualizations because the tool is easy to use.