World Summit on Digital Built Environment, WDBE 2020 in virtual reality

Credits: KIRAHub

Credits: KIRAHub

COVID-19 gave the World Summit on Digital Built Environment, WDBE, a reason to redefine itself, and share a new virtual event experience

Taking place September 29-30 2020, Virtual WDBE 2020 used a combination of Unreal Engine and Zoan’s virtual event platform to transport attendees in real time to “Illusion City”, a digital environment inspired by Helsinki and Tallinn.

During the first lockdown the organising team of the WDBE summit decided to shift all of its events online, and started looking for new collaborators at the forefront of digital built environment. In a week, a first draft of an entirely virtual WDBE summit was produced with the help of the leading VR studio in Europe, Zoan.

With the help from Unreal Engine, the WDBE summit platform used pixel streaming technology to morph into an immersive free-roam Illusion City, which could be experienced in real time, with any device during the 2 days of the summit. This was the first time in the world a business conference was fused with gaming technology to replicate and enhance the experience of learning, knowledge sharing and networking. The virtual summit gathered 523 participants from 27 different countries.

“Finland and the Nordics are globally recognized for our good quality of life and happy people. We want to highlight our role as a forerunner of sustainable digitalisation of the built environment and give this industry concrete example to benchmark globally. Digital platforms like WDBE are perfect for doing so.” highlights Teemu Lehtinen, CEO of KIRAHub, a non-profit association boosting sustainable digitalisation of the built environment in Finland.

Lehtinen also tells what were the key learnings in organizing such a special event in just three months’ time:

  • Try to find new ways to engage people before, during and after the event.
  • Participants love live discussions and interaction with the keynote speakers and other participants.
  • Be brave to try something new, don’t be afraid to fail, people are forgiving and see the positive side.
  • We couldn’t have had done it this fast without existing 3D assets from Virtual Helsinki and agile partners Zoan and Epic Games.

About the World Summit on Digital Built Environment

WDBE 2020 was organised by KIRAHub and Finnish Association for Civil Engineers RIL. Co-organizers of the 2020 event were Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication, Estonian Digital Construction Cluster and Ministry of the Environment of Finland. The partners included YIT, Platform of Trust, 3Di, Helsinki Business Hub, Dutch Embassy, Smart Otaniemi project, DiCtion project, Life EconomisE project, Twin Value project, City of Tallinn and City of Helsinki.

The programme included collaborative sessions, workshops, matchmaking opportunities and keynotes from international professionals, such as Jakob Strømann-Andersen from Henning Larsen and Kathrin Dörfler from TU Munich.

Read more about WDBE 2021 on KIRAhub website.