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Our Virtual Reality tool explores the topic of current digital social norms using online hate speech as a focus.

We wanted to understand how technology (in this case, VR) might be used to explore factors that drive disruptive digital behaviours, the social impacts of these behaviours, and how to ensure safe environments so that all New Zealanders are able to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the digital world.

The VR tool has been used to give a sense of how the public service may begin to use near-future technologies in exploring aspects of a strategic policy issue. In this case allowing analysts to see and understand the drivers and impacts of online hate speech. We also show how near-future tech such as VR can support future policy development to be better informed by evidence led, contextual experience.

This project has been driven by the Digital Rights and Ethics team as part of the Government Chief Digital Officers office within the Department of internal affairs. The Project has been presented and shared internationally as part of New Zealand’s contributions to the Digital Nations group a collaborative network of the world’s leading digital governments.

This project is open source and can be accessed via GitHub.