Doubts about the metaverse? A nation could move there completely

“Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most valuable assets for our people, and to preserve them, no matter what happens in the real world, we will move them to the cloud.”

A phrase uttered by Simon Kofe, Foreign Minister of Tuvalu (an island state of 12,000 people located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean), on the sidelines of Cop27, the latest edition of the annual climate change conference organized by the United Nations.

The tone and background soundtrack express anguish, as does the evocative portrayal of the minister talking to the sea water at knee height. Yet this is not just an apocalyptic vision, a provocation or a desperate plea aimed at saving the physical existence of the archipelago, which by 2100 could be completely submerged by the ocean. In fact, the metaverse is about to be an established reality not only for businesses, but also for many institutional entities.

The metaverse to cope with global warming

The focus, of course, is on other island nations that, like Tuvalu, are blaming global warming and the resulting sea level rise. The island of Barbados in the Caribbean, for example, is also threatened by increasing hurricanes, tidal levels, temperatures, coastal erosion, and changes in rainfall. This has prompted the government to open an embassy on the virtual world Decentraland, in part to allow anyone to inquire about its territory and entice virtual tourists to physically visit the island. Similarly, the Caribbean archipelago of Grenada recently registered a 3-D model of itself that government officials can use for sustainability plans.

From small islands to big cities

In 2021, San Francisco used digital models of its neighborhoods, built with the help of Google and Waymo vehicles, to study mobility patterns and travel to the port to identify spots with poor air quality and to create a systematic plan against rising temperatures. A path also taken by Singapore.

Instead, in a few months it will be Seoul, capital of South Korea, the first city to land entirely on the metaverse. The goal is to transfer all the main activities of the public administration to encourage interaction in digital form with users, but that’s not all: it will also be possible to visit city attractions, participate in events, and go back in time to visit historic buildings that have been lost. Then there is Mendoza City, Argentina, where the construction of the digital twin helped city officials analyze the health of trees and determine whether shrubs were diseased or could be saved.

What about in Italy?

Milan, Turin, Rome? No, the first Italian city to fully land in the metaverse is Orvieto. “Orvieto in the Metaverse” is the name of the project, presented at the TTG Fair in Rimini, which allows users to virtually visit the Umbrian municipality with the guidance of an avatar, mascot Anna. At the end of the visit, the traveler can apply for the Municipality of Orvieto’s ID Card in NFT technology, becoming its virtual citizen. Will we see more such developments in our country?