Cities worldwide are beginning to embrace metaverse technology to aid urban planning, bolster community outreach and participation, and act as an economic engine. How does the metaverse help with these initiatives? What investment opportunity may these strategies present?
A Potential Aid in Public Planning
Digital twin technology allows for the virtual representation of real-world physical assets or systems, in this case, cities. Digital twins of cities can be created to provide a more realistic look of what certain developments may look like in real-time. They may also help predict how such developments may affect traffic flow and other variables. Additionally, digital twin technology may help predict how overall cities and individual development projects may be affected by events such as floods, fires, high winds, and climate change.
Cities such as Orlando, Las Vegas, and Boston already have digital twins that allow local governments to anticipate and address different scenarios, such as proposed land use and the impact of new streets. For climate change, the technology may help to predict events such as flooding, which can inform infrastructure planning and emergency response.
Community Outreach and Participation
Metaverse technology may aid in community outreach and participation. Some examples include cities that are creating virtual town halls so that residents can, through their avatars, engage with local politicians and receive administrative services.
Digital twin technology may provide realistic renderings of development projects which may elicit more constructive community feedback. The city of Los Angeles created a virtual model of the Sixth Street Viaduct Bridge to help generate excitement for the project.
Additionally, digital twins may be used to create virtual representations of cultural zones, enabling individuals with disabilities or other mobility issues to participate in community events.
One example is Seoul, South Korea’s ‘Metaverse Seoul.’ Elements of this plan include holding events such as the Seoul Lantern Festival in the metaverse and recreating digital twins of local tourist areas and lost historical resources and sites. The plan will also support basic civil functions such as creating a digital Mayor’s office, a virtual public service center, and will provide convenient consultations and civil services which were only available at Seoul City Hall.
Serve as an Economic Engine
Some cities are looking to metaverse technology to serve as an economic engine. For example, the city of Santa Monica, CA, is creating a play-to-earn metaverse app that will allow users in the downtown area to unlock digital collectibles and rewards to redeem at local retailers. 
The Dubai metaverse strategy aims to turn the city into one of the world's top 10 metaverse economies and a hub for the metaverse community. It aims to do this through research and development collaborations, promoting advanced ecosystems through accelerators and incubators, and by providing the necessary education and resources to developers, content creators, and users of digital platforms.
As metaverse technology expands and is adopted for more uses, companies that provide metaverse services may present individuals with an attractive investment opportunity.
 The Metaverse as a Virtual Form of Smart Cities; Opportunities and Challenges for Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability in Urban Futures, Smart Cities MDPI, 7/8/22
 Kroll, Karen, Why Cities are Exploring Metaverse Technology, SmartCitiesDive, 8/8/22
 Seoul, First Local Government to Start New-Concept Public Service with Metaverse Platform, Seoul Metropolitan Government, 11/8/21
 Hamdan bin Mohammed Launches Dubai Metaverse Strategy, Emirates News Agency – WAM, 7/18/22
Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee the Funds will achieve their stated objectives. In addition to the normal risks associated with investing, international investments may involve the risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, differences in generally accepted accounting principles, or social, economic, or political instability in other nations. Emerging markets involve heightened risks related to the same factors, as well as increased volatility and lower trading volume.