Seoul Local Council adopts public service Metaverse
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has announced it is the first local government in South Korea to establish a metaverse platform. The contactless communication channel is designed to provide a new-concept of public service by deploying the platform for residents. South Korea previously approved blockchain based digital drivers licences for citizens in 2020.
The ₩ 3.9 billion (AUD 4.48 million) project is part of a 10-year plan by Mayor Oh Se-hoon to digitise the city. The tentatively named 'Metaverse Seoul' is touted to be operational by the end of 2022 through a three-stage roll out and seeks to create metaverse capabilities for economic, cultural, tourism, educational and civil service industries within the city.
By the end of next year specific capabilities will include a Virtual Mayors Office, Seoul FinTech Lab, Invest Seoul and Seoul Campus Town before the launch of the 'Metaverse 120 Centre', a virtual public service centre, in 2023. Avatar public officials on the metaverse will provide consultation and civil service available through the civil service centre at Seoul City Hall.
SMG also aims to introduce a 'Virtual Tourist Zone' to showcase major tourist attractions as well as recreate lost tourist attractions. From 2023, leading festivals like the Seoul Lantern Festival and other major events will be broadcasted internationally on the Metaverse.
A policy for providing public service to overcome restrictions in the real world will be accompanying the metaverse and SMG plans to eventually expand the platform to all areas of its municipal administration. It remains to be seen if a metaverse will increase the working efficiency of officials or reduce costs of residents interacting with Council. While South Korea is among the only governments seeking to create a virtual city, the popularity of metaverse projects only seems to be increasing.
We remain optimistic but cautious about whether metaverse deployments will improve resident's interactions with government, as the UX issues which need to be addressed are inherently more complicated than those which seem to be regularly undercooked in current government website interfaces.