Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, TN

Take a virtual tour of a Habitat for Humanity home

Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County has announced a first-of-its-kind virtual home tour through a unique partnership with the Austin Peay State University’s GIS (Geographic Information System) Center.

The tour uses a recently built Habitat home as a model to showcase Habitat’s basic floor plan, which has been used with slight variations since 1992. Online visitors can experience it through virtual reality or a web browser at this link: https://bit.ly/45QvuiQ (NOTE: place cursor on red dot, then hold and scroll to pan around each room)

Rob Selkow, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, said the tour is another way for the nonprofit to share its story with the community. Each build is funded through sales from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and the organization provides zero-interest loans through a competitive program to help families purchase the homes.

“I think a virtual tour lets people take some mental ownership of what it’s like to walk into the kind of house we’re partnering with them on,” Selkow said. “This is not just for future homebuyers – we also want donors and volunteers interested in helping with Habitat to know what standard we expect.”

“We have these cameras that allow us to do very detailed indoor scans of buildings, and we were looking for projects to pilot their use,” said Mike Wilson, the director of Austin Peay’s GIS Center. “I think this was an amazing opportunity because people in the community can actually take a tour and see these homes. You hear a lot about Habitat’s work, but seeing it is a completely different experience.”

Senior psychology major Robert Taylor, a temporary worker at APSU’s GIS Center, showcases the camera equipment he used to create a virtual home tour for Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County. | Photo by Sean McCully

Designing the tour

Senior psychology major Robert Taylor, a temporary worker at the GIS Center, created the tour and gained practical experience using the center’s new camera equipment along the way.

“What we did was take a 360-degree camera and moved it from one spot to another to take pictures,” he said. “Then we brought it back here and converted everything with [the virtual tour software] Pano2VR.”

Taylor said working on the project also strengthened his ability to handle unexpected real-world challenges.

“It’s put me in a lot of different situations that I wasn’t used to figuring out before,” he said. “Troubleshooting on the job is something I’ve had to do in a small aspect, but not on this scale … being able to adapt to that is helpful, and working in and around the community has helped with my communication skills.”

The collaboration provided a valuable opportunity for the GIS Center to utilize and support Habitat’s mission through innovative technology.

“Austin Peay made us feel like really important clients,” Selkow said. “It mattered to them that they got it right and that we felt good about what they provided. They gave us the VIP treatment, and we’re so grateful to have them help advance Habitat’s mission through their unique storytelling ability.” 

(By Ethan Steinquest – Contributed by APSU)


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