- By the end of 2022, Seoul’s metropolitan administration will have developed its own metaverse platform.
- This December, the platform will debut with a virtual new year’s bell-ringing event.
- Aside from municipal services, the metaverse will also have virtual replicas of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has revealed plans to create “Metaverse Seoul,” a next-generation platform that would contain a virtual city hall, tourism destinations, social service centers, and other features. SMG is the first large municipal administration to unveil such a plan, and it is expected that more cities will follow suit. If the proposal succeeds, Seoul citizens would be able to use virtual reality goggles to visit a virtual city hall to do everything from the tour of a historic site to filing a civil complaint.
The investment of 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million) is part of Mayor Oh Se-10-year hoon’s strategy for the city, which aims to increase social mobility among inhabitants while also increasing the city’s worldwide competitiveness. It also takes advantage of South Korea’s Digital New Deal, a statewide initiative to deploy digital and AI tools to improve healthcare, central infrastructure, and the economy as the country recovers from the covid-19 economic crisis.
The trial program will kick off with a bell-ringing ceremony at the end of the year, followed by the introduction of a “Virtual Mayor’s Office,” Seoul FinTech Lab, Invest Seoul, and Seoul Campus Town. A designated “Virtual Tourist Zone” in the metaverse will comprise virtual copies of famous tourist attractions such as Gwanghwamun Plaza, Deoksugung Palace, and Namdaemun Market, in addition to public services. Visitors will be able to tour digitally restored historical places such as Donuimun gate, which was demolished during the Japanese colonial period.
The plan provides few information about what devices citizens will use to access the metaverse platform so far, however city officials stress that the goal is to increase access to public city services regardless of geography or disability. However, for many people, specialist equipment may be a hindrance. Virtual reality headsets are still expensive, cost between $300 and $600, and are not as common as smartphones and PCs.
As part of the “smart cities” concept, local governments are utilizing digital technologies and real-time data to improve city operations. The metaverse could be the next step in its development. Even for the firms seeking to establish the metaverse, the intricacies of how it will function are still vague, but it’s a natural next step for Seoul.