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Doubts About the Metaverse? An Entire Nation Might Move In

“Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets for our people, and to preserve them, regardless of what happens in the real world, we will move them to the cloud.”

This statement was made by Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu (a small island nation of 12,000 inhabitants located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean), on the sidelines of Cop27, the latest edition of the annual United Nations conference on climate change.

The tone and the background soundtrack convey anguish, as does the evocative portrayal of the minister speaking with knee-deep seawater. However, it’s not just an apocalyptic vision, a provocation, or a desperate plea to save the physical existence of the archipelago, which could be completely submerged by the ocean by 2100. The metaverse is on the verge of becoming a well-established reality not only for businesses but also for many institutional entities.

Metaverse Addressing Global Warming

The focus is naturally on other island nations like Tuvalu that are facing the impacts of global warming and the resulting sea level rise. The Caribbean island of Barbados, for instance, is threatened by not only rising sea levels but also increased hurricanes, tidal levels, temperatures, coastal erosion, and precipitation variations. This has prompted the government to establish an embassy in the virtual world of Decentraland, enabling anyone to learn about the country and enticing virtual tourists to physically visit the island. Similarly, the Caribbean archipelago of Grenada recently created a 3D model of itself that government officials can use for sustainability planning.

From Small Islands to Major Cities

In 2021, San Francisco used digital models of its neighborhoods, created with the help of Google and Waymo vehicles, to study mobility patterns and movements toward the port, identifying areas with poor air quality and developing a systematic plan against rising temperatures. Singapore has also taken a similar path.

In a few months, Seoul, the capital of South Korea, will become the first city to fully embrace the metaverse. The goal is to shift all major public administration activities to the metaverse, promoting digital interaction with users. Additionally, visitors will have the chance to explore city attractions, participate in events, and even go back in time to visit lost historical buildings. Then there’s Mendoza City in Argentina, where constructing a digital twin helped city officials analyze the health of trees and determine if shrubs were sick or could be saved.

What about Italy?

Milan, Turin, Rome? No, the first Italian city to fully step into the metaverse is Orvieto. “Orvieto nel Metaverso” (Orvieto in the Metaverse) is the name of the project presented at the TTG Travel Experience fair in Rimini. It allows users to virtually visit the Umbrian municipality guided by an avatar, the mascot Anna. At the end of the visit, travelers can request the Orvieto Municipality ID Card in NFT technology, becoming virtual citizens. Will we see similar developments like this in our country?