With rapid population growth, urban designers face tremendous challenges to accommodate the increasing size of the population in urban areas while simultaneously considering future environmental, social, and economic impacts. A “smart city” is an urban development vision that integrates multiple information and communication technologies to manage the assets of a city, including its information systems, transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management systems, and other community services provided by a local department. The goal of creating a smart city is to improve the quality of life of citizens by using technology and by addressing the environmental, social, cultural, and physical needs of a society. Data modeling and data visualization are integral parts of planning a smart city, and planning professionals currently seek new methods for real-time simulations. The impact analysis of “what-if scenarios” frequently takes a significant amount of time and resources, and virtual reality (VR) is a potential tool for addressing these challenges. VR is a computer technology that replicates an environment, whether real or imagined, and simulates the physical presence and environment of a user to allow for user interaction. This paper presents a review of the capacity of VR to address current challenges in creating, modeling, and visualizing smart cities through material modeling and light simulation in a VR environment. This study can assist urban planners, stakeholders, and communities to further understand the roles of planning policies in creating a smart city, particularly in the early design stages. The significant roles of technologies, such as VR, in targeting real-time simulations and visualization requirements for smart cities are emphasized.
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