You may think it is just the latest marketing hype or technology buzzword, but the metaverse is getting increasing attention by city leaders who are eager to know how their communities may take advantage of it.
The metaverse – as the next evolution of the internet integrating physical and digital experiences – is set to potentially improve city services and urban life, if deployed well.
In South Korea, Seoul announced its ambitions back in November 2021 and planned huge investments about it. The local government has recently released the beta version of “Metaverse Seoul” and aims to have a full environment for all public services by 2026. The first official release is scheduled for the end of this year, as soon as feedback collection and bug fixing steps are completed.
Other projects are on their way. In China, Shanghai aims to cultivate a USD 52 billion metaverse industry by 2025, while Guangzhou is establishing a metaverse industry zone and launching specific measures and funding options to boost local human capital, R&D, and technology developments. In the UAE, Dubai is implementing a “Metaverse Strategy” to become one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies. Key pillars are augmented and virtual reality, as well as digital twins to provide a virtual representation of places, objects, and systems.
The National League of Cities urged municipal governments in US to learn more about the metaverse and what enables it. Technologies like blockchain and the Internet of Things are foundational and many cities around the world are already leveraging them to better manage public services and improve livability.
Immersive applications include the hosting of cultural and sports events, virtual city halls to allow residents have lifelike interactions with city officials and departments, virtual commercial districts, and more.
These use cases may be just the beginning of a broader trend. By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social, or entertainment, says Gartner. Around 30 per cent of the world’s organizations will have metaverse products and services, feeding an economy that Citi estimates around UDS 13 trillion.