SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 5, 2021 – Metaverse is expected to be the main virtual communication channel in the post-COVID-19 era. Following this trend, the SMG decided to self-develop a metaverse platform for the first time as a municipal government. It will use the platform across the city administration, providing a new concept of public services. Seoul’s unique platform, tentatively named Metaverse Seoul, is scheduled for completion by the end of next year. The city government will build a metaverse ecosystem for all administrative services regarding the economy, culture, tourism, education, and civil complaints. The construction of the platform will undergo three stages from next year.
The three stages are Introduction (2022) – Expansion (2023 to 2024) – Settlement (2025 to 2026). Seoul plans to establish the platform and introduce seven services in the economy, education, and tourism sectors at the first stage in 2022. By investing KRW 3.9 billion, the city aims to complete creating the platform and showcase it to the public by the end of the same year.
Starting from a virtual New Year bell-ringing ceremony of Bosingak this year, Seoul’s various facilities and services, such as the virtual Mayor’s office, Seoul Fintech Lab, Invest Seoul, and Seoul Campus Town will be created on the metaverse platform.
In 2023, Metaverse 120 Center (as temporarily named), an online general civil service office, will be established. Once the virtual service office is completed, citizens may meet avatars of public officials, resolve their civil complaints and benefit from consultancy service without physically being present at the City Hall.
Also, Seoul’s famous tourist attractions, like Gwanghwamun Square, Deoksugung, and Namdaemun Market, will be virtually created on the platform as a “special zone for a virtual tour.” In the same context, destroyed historical sites such as Donuimun will be reanimated in the virtual space. Furthermore, Seoul’s representative festivals, including the Seoul Lantern Festival, will be held in the metaverse so that everyone around the world can enjoy. The SMG announced that it will also develop Extended Reality (XR)-powered safety and convenience content and services for the disabled.
According to Seoul, it will offer public services by overcoming time, space, and language limitations via the Metaverse platform based on cutting-edge technologies. At the same time, the city will enhance its public officials’ performance by expanding the use of the platform across all sectors of the city administration. The SMG disclosed a five-year (2022-2026) Basic Plan for Metaverse Seoul (“the Basic Plan”) on Wednesday, October 6th. It is the first comprehensive mid to long-term metaverse policy for a local government and one of the key strategies for a city of future sensibility that Mayor Oh suggested in Seoul Vision 2030.
The Basic Plan has 20 goals in seven areas, reflecting metaverse trends in public and private sectors as well as the demand for services. The seven areas are economy, education, tourism, communication, city, administration, and infrastructure.
First, Seoul will reproduce Seoul Fintech Lab in the metaverse to provide offline support in a virtual world in the economic field. In the metaverse, Seoul Fintech Lab will help companies attract foreign investment.
Metaverse will be a test bed for Seoul to reinvigorate industries that have shrunk due to COVID-19. Avatars will advise foreign investors and provide one-stop startup services. In addition, digital content creation training to nurture businesses and networking events for startup companies in Campus Town will be all held in the metaverse.
Second, in the educational sector where the metaverse is most actively used, the SMG will create a virtual campus of Seoul Open City University. Also, Seoul Learn will offer diverse immersive content, such as lectures, mentorship programs, and career fairs, to adolescents who are used to the metaverse environment.
Third, Seoul’s attractive tourism sites—Gwanghawmun Square, Deoksugung, and Namdaemun Market, to name a few—will turn into special zones for virtual tours in the Metaverse Seoul. Visitors can ride on the City Tour Bus and tour around in the metaverse. Seoul’s representative festivals and exhibitions, such as Seoul Drum Festival and Seoul Lantern Festival that became hard to enjoy due to the pandemic, will now be held as immersive content.
Fourth, public services frequently used by citizens, such as civil complaints, consultancy, and reservation of public facilities, will be available in the metaverse, providing more convenient services to the public. This will also improve Seoul citizens’ digital capacity, which is crucial in the era of the digital transition. The SMG will create a metaverse version of the Mayor’s office at Seoul City Hall and use it as an open communication channel between the city and its residents.
Fifth, urban management will be upgraded by using technologies combining Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and XR. Additionally, numerous services for the vulnerable, including the disabled, will secure their safety and convenience.
Sixth, Seoul will introduce metaverse conferences to hold different events and use them as communication channels. Metaverse-based remote working environment will also be developed by leveraging state-of-the-art technologies. The SMG said it will launch smart offices in virtual spaces. In addition, a smart work environment where AI and avatar public officials work together will become a reality. Seoul will provide data services that enable the public and private sectors to utilize and share big data.
Seventh, to stably operate all of the metaverse services mentioned above, a platform where those services can be provided is necessary. As a result, the Metaverse Seoul, which will serve as the platform, will be under construction next year.
“Metaverse is evolving into different forms based on technological levels and user demand. In particular, it is gaining traction as a new paradigm for post-COVID-19,” said Park Jong-Soo, Director General of Smart City Policy Bureau. He said, “The SMG will pioneer a new continent called the Metaverse Seoul where public demand and private technologies are combined. For all age groups to enjoy the benefits, we will work on the Metaverse Seoul and make Seoul a smart, inclusive city.”