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When tech companies made bold announcements about the shift into decentralized technologies and the metaverse, some cities broke (digital) ground on new infrastructure and services. Think of it as “digital city planning,” which will allow municipal administrators to analyze current performance, test out various scenarios, and identify areas for improvement. Think of a metaverse city as a souped-up digital twin of the real, physical thing. Several cities, including Singapore and Sydney, are starting to embrace the metaverse to aid in planning. Seoul is developing a citywide metaverse platform this year—it’s an early example of a public metaverse that will offer city services and cultural events. The ecosystem will include what digital city planners call the Metaverse 120 Center, a portal for city residents to virtually complete transactions—registering complaints or notifying city departments that something needs repair—rather than at city hall. Several cities in the PRC are building public metaverses, including Shanghai, which incorporated the development of a public metaverse in its five-year plan. Using spatial mapping technology powered by Nextech’s ARway, London is now being mapped in 3D. Tokyo’s city government is making progress on a digital twin of the dense, sprawling city and hopes to have finalized the project—which will run using real-time data—by 2030. While the metaverse is still being developed, some governments are already starting to push the boundaries of what citizens might do in virtual environments. Barbados is hoping to develop what it calls “digital sovereign land” and virtual embassies. If it succeeds, the Caribbean nation will use a digital identity system allowing citizens to transport their avatars from one virtual world to another through those virtual embassies. Governments and corporations should continue to explore new pathways for collaboration using digital twins, especially if metaversal technologies start to accelerate at a faster rate than existing internet or mobile connectivity speeds.

Metaverse cities