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[Slashdot] - Seoul Will Be the First City Government To Join the Metaverse


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Seoul says it will be the first major city government to enter the metaverse. On Nov. 3, the South Korean capital announced a plan to make a variety of public services and cultural events available in the metaverse, an immersive internet that relies on virtual reality. If the plan is successful, Seoul residents can visit a virtual city hall to do everything from touring a historic site to filing a civil complaint by donning virtual reality goggles. The 3.9 billion won ($3.3 million) investment is part of mayor Oh Se-hoon's 10-year plan for the city, which aims to improve social mobility among citizens and raising the city's global competitiveness. It also taps into South Korea's Digital New Deal, a nationwide plan to embrace digital and AI tools to improve healthcare, central infrastructure, and the economy in its recovery from the economic crisis caused by covid-19. Seoul's metropolitan government will develop its own metaverse platform by the end of 2022. By the time it is fully operational in 2026, it will host a variety of public functions including a virtual mayor's office, as well as spaces serving the business sector; a fintech incubator; and a public investment organization. The platform will kick off with a virtual new year's bell-ringing ceremony this December. In 2023, the city plans to open "Metaverse 120 Center," a place for virtual public services where avatars will handle citizen concerns that could previously only be addressed by physically going to city hall. So far the plan offers sparse details about exactly what devices citizens will use to access the metaverse platform, though city officials emphasize that the goal is to broaden access to public city services, regardless of geography or disabilities. But specialized equipment could be a barrier for many people. Virtual reality headsets still sell for $300 and $600, and are not as widely accessible as smartphones and computers.

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