Virtual Tour Interactive Map – North East Link Project

Last Updated on June 28, 2023

Implementation of a Virtual Tour interactive map for the massive North East Link Project.

Client: North East Link Authority.

Project: North East Link Project.

Linked Urban CGI service: Virtual Tours.


The North East Link Project (NELP) aims to address the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network by connecting the M80 with an upgraded Eastern Freeway, as depicted in the North East Link Project map. This initiative will provide a safe and efficient freeway connection for up to 135,000 vehicles per day, facilitating connectivity between crucial growth areas in the north and southeast regions.

One of the key aspects of the project involves comprehensive public consultation and stakeholder engagement activities. The NELP has effectively communicated the project’s design, benefits, and impacts to various stakeholders by utilizing digital engagement materials and services provided by Urban CGI. This communication case study highlights the successful utilisation of these resources.

The NELP was actively engaged in obtaining planning approvals, a process that is guided by the Environment Effects Statement (EES) procedure, including public hearings to ensure thorough assessment and transparency.

As a large-scale infrastructure project, the NELP encompasses an extensive footprint across greater Melbourne. It can be viewed as three separate projects under an overarching vision, which include the following:

  • Connection between the M80 Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway.
  • Expansion and upgrades of the Eastern Freeway.
  • Implementation of the Doncaster Busway, a crucial public transport component.

Through the execution of these integrated initiatives, the North East Link Project aims to enhance Melbourne’s transportation infrastructure, bolster regional connectivity, and accommodate the evolving needs of its growing population.

Engagement Challenge

Given the extensive coverage and dynamic nature of a city-wide North East Link Program, it is inevitable that details and circumstances may evolve over time. Consequently, effective communication becomes paramount to cater to diverse stakeholders, including project participants, the general public, and local community groups directly affected by the initiative.

The challenge lies in ensuring that all stakeholders can access consolidated information comprising images, videos, updates, and relevant details through a single online platform that encompasses all three project components of the project up to the North East Link completion date.

Virtual Tour Solution

Urban CGI has developed a comprehensive online portal to facilitate effective communication that consolidates project content related to the North East Link Project (NELP).

This singular platform allows users to access and navigate project information through an intuitive map interface. It offers multiple levels of viewable information that users can explore based on their specific interests regarding the NELP project and its locations. Key components of this portal include:

  • Overall Project Map: Serving as the home page, this section provides an overview of the entire project, including interchange points along the route.
  • Precinct Location Map: Highlighting significant landmarks along the project corridor, this map offers stakeholders valuable insights into the locations affected by the NELP.
  • Project Information Callouts: This section encompasses a variety of multimedia resources, such as images, videos, stakeholder feedback, and comprehensive project details. It aims to provide stakeholders with a comprehensive understanding of the project’s design thinking and progress.

Through the implementation of the Virtual Tour iMap, stakeholders gain a clear vision of the North East Link update and develop an in-depth comprehension of the design principles applied at various locations and stages of the project. This facilitates effective communication and fosters a shared understanding among all parties involved.

NELP Virtual Tour Map Overview on App
NE virtual tour iMap introduction page

Interoperability & Augmented Reality

The Virtual Tour iMap solution provides a centralized portal that seamlessly integrates all project content into an intuitive and interactive format. This user-friendly platform is accessible across multiple devices, including PCs, tablets, and smartphones, ensuring convenient access for stakeholders involved in the development of the Eastern Express Highway.

While the Virtual Tour iMap primarily functions online, it can also be deployed on touchscreen kiosks during stakeholder engagement and community consultation events. This allows for a more immersive and hands-on experience, enabling attendees to explore the project details firsthand.

An exceptional feature of the Virtual Tour iMap is its Augmented Reality (AR) capability. By leveraging this functionality within the application, stakeholders can activate 3D plans and view artist impressions, creating a dynamic and realistic representation of the project.

This Augmented Reality feature facilitates the correlation of design elements with specific locations, enabling stakeholders to understand the project in Victoria better. Furthermore, it ensures consistency and continuity between the information displayed during events and the content accessible online, promoting a comprehensive and unified communication experience.

Virtual tour for NELP using a tablet
iMap AR functionality showcasing eastern freeway bike path map

Virtual Tour Results

The NELP Virtual Tour iMap, commissioned by the project’s construction builder, successfully reached a significant number of community members and remains a frequently utilized tool as the project progresses through the Environment Effects Statement (EES) phase.

It played a vital role in public engagement and serves as a means for direct stakeholder briefings. The Virtual Tour iMap is consistently updated and enriched with fresh content and information, aligning with the project’s advancements and evolving communication requirements.

Over a period of 10 months, the Virtual Tour iMap has garnered an impressive user base, with a total of 73,241 users engaging with the platform. Additionally, it has achieved a substantial number of impressions, totalling 15,994,562 impressions over the same duration. These figures highlight the widespread adoption and utilization of the Virtual Tour iMap by the community and stakeholders.

Furthermore, the Virtual Tour iMap boasts several additional features that enhance user experience and functionality. It ensures a seamless experience across desktop and mobile devices while maintaining compatibility with all major web browsers.

The NELP Virtual Tour iMap offers the following features:

  • Desktop and Mobile Responsiveness: Ensures seamless functionality across all devices and browsers.
  • Search Capability: Allows users to search for specific features, locations, and addresses within the iMap.
  • Navigation, Zoom, and Rotate Controls: Provides intuitive controls for navigating, zooming, and rotating the iMap view.
  • Configurable Starting View and Zoom Levels: Enables users to customize their initial view and zoom settings.
  • Comment and Feedback Functionality: Allows users to leave comments and provide feedback, encouraging engagement and collaboration.
  • Stylized Data Layers and Layer Toggling: Provides visually appealing data layers and the ability to toggle between different layers.
  • Clickable Elements: Includes clickable elements that link to web pages, PDFs, images, videos, and downloadable content.
  • Augmented Reality Overlays: Enhances the iMap experience by incorporating augmented reality overlays, allowing users to visualize 3D plans and elements within real-world locations.

The NELP Virtual Tour iMap has achieved considerable community reach and continues to be used frequently as the project transitions through the EES phase. It has become a key tool for public engagement and direct stakeholder briefings; it is kept updated and relevant with new content and information as the project progresses and new communication requirements come into focus.

Virtual tour 3D render image of the Eastern Freeway widening
Virtual tour 3D render image of the Eastern Freeway widening

Transform Your Project Engagement with Urban CGI’s Virtual Tours

Urban CGI’s Virtual Tour service has proven to be a valuable tool for effective communication and stakeholder engagement in projects like the North East Link Project. With expertise in creating immersive virtual tours, Urban CGI offers a comprehensive solution that enhances understanding and promotes collaboration.

To elevate your project’s communication and engagement, contact Urban CGI today and experience the power of virtual tours. Visit the website for more information, and embark on a transformative journey of communication and engagement.