Since the Facebook Meta, the term “metaverse” — a term coined in the early 1990s that refers to a network of 3D virtual worlds — has become a hot topic of conversation online, at home and in many city halls. The implications of this new generation of digital interaction and the technology that drive it into reality are profound.
said Lina Garrity, Director of iInnovation and Sustainability in the National League of Cities (NLC) Urban Solutions Center. Gary Author of a report published on Monday titled “Cities and the Metaverse.”
Besides regulating these and other emerging technologies, it’s important to be aware and involved in whatever the metaverse is evolving into, because it’s critical that administrators “be part of the conversation.” Defining the purpose of the new technology and what are the benefits? Continue running. “There are some versions of the metaverse that can really help people live their lives the way they want to live it.”
From apps to help people with limited ability to navigate to digital communities that connect people together through augmented and virtual reality, Garrity said it’s important for local leaders to start thinking about how to defend the interests of their constituents rather than letting tech companies run the conversation.
Besides advocacy, the metaverse can provide local officials with an opportunity to better serve their communities, strengthen economies, increase access, and create new connections, among other benefits.
“What if a real simulation of our physical world could be recreated virtually? What value will it bring to people’s lives, and what challenges will it present and ultimately prove to be a net positive for cities? Request a report. “Imagine a future where community members can interact ‘face to face’ with construction department employees about plans for their new yard from the comfort of their home, comment at a virtual town hall meeting from their office, or even communicate with the mayor without having to enter town hall.
Although the technology required to launch the entire global metaverse is not yet developed, it is progressing, and some US governments have begun experimenting with technologies that will serve as the basis for the future development of the metaverse.
“We’ve seen governments use everything from augmented reality to virtual reality to blockchain and cryptocurrency, which we see as the building blocks of a larger metaverse,” Garrity said.
As an example, she cited a project in Massachusetts led by the Boston Agency for Planning and Development that built a digital twin that maps the city’s physical landscape, “from water and sewer systems to treetops,” the report noted. “In the case of a controversial development proposal, a digital twin was used to assess the shadows a proposed new building would cast on a popular park, resulting in (the agency) changing building plans and reducing the ‘impact on the park’ while staying in the planning process.
From urban planning to climate change and natural disaster mapping, digital twins, a virtual model designed to accurately reflect a system or location, are clearly beneficial for governments. The Internet of Things, the term referring to devices laden with artificial intelligence and advanced computing, is another aspect of the metaverse that can clearly be exploited for the benefit of the public.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, officials deployed “adaptive traffic lights that change lights based on actual traffic to reduce travel times and fuel consumption. The Intelligent Traffic System has reduced travel delays in Pittsburgh by about 20%,” the report states.
Garrity said that in Austin, Texas, homeless people can get a digital ID that is stored via a blockchain so they don’t have to carry a physical ID.
In addition to boosting tourism through 3D virtual reality tours that users can experience before visiting, other applications of metaverse-related technologies include a virtual reality town hall where voters can conduct business remotely.
“Increased access to information is going to be really critical,” Garrity continued. When you visit local government websites, “it’s sometimes very hard to find what you need.” In this, the virtual advisor can “point people in the right direction”.
Within the broader Metaverse, Santa Monica, California was the first US city to join the Metaverse, according to the report.
“The city now offers a virtual way to experience the downtown neighborhood through FlickPlay, the metaverse social apps company based in Santa Monica. In its partnership with Santa Monica, FlickPlay provides users with an interactive map of the city’s shopping district where they can collect tokens as they move around the city,” As stated in the report. “Some codes can be used to unlock digital experiences within the app and other codes can be exchanged for physical items at retailers in the region.”
In addition to a pilot program to test emerging technology, the company is working to drive foot traffic to local businesses and underutilized spaces, the report continues.
Garrity noted that as local leaders begin to navigate this unprecedented next step in the digital world, they should “feel empowered” to investigate further.
“We are still in the early stages of these talks,” she said. “How local governments use these technologies and how local governments can deal with the metaverse in the future is an important first step.”