“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” - Peter F. Drucker
The Metaverse City Accord
As the strategists and stewards of our cities, we have an opportunity and responsibility to connect, serve, and protect our communities with the emerging power of metaverse technologies. These technologies include AI and data, AR and VR, blockchain and Web3, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
With the support of New York University’s School of Professional Studies’ Metaverse Collaborative, the Sharing Cities Alliance, and the Jacobs-Technion Cornell Institute, representatives signing this accord are guided by a shared set of principles. We encourage all those who design, build, govern and “disrupt” cities worldwide to join us as signatories.
WHY DOES THE METAVERSE MATTER TO CITIES?
As strategists and stewards, we have an opportunity to lead in the creation, cultivation, management, and regulation of this new paradigm and build the much-needed connections and trust with our citizens. Simultaneously, with this emerging and rapidly evolving paradigm, cities are at risk of standing still. Since time immemorial, cities have existed in a physical realm as a form of organized society with a well-exercised governance model. This model was predicated on a central polity or an environment where control and decision-making are vested in a central entity to advance inhabitants' values. However, this fundamental structure of cities will approach a moment of reckoning as our physical and virtual worlds converge. This moment demands cities either adapt or evolve as the metaverse advances, based on a premise of decentralization and autonomous organization. Therefore, as leaders of cities operating around the world, we have a responsibility to represent people, influence public debate, and be held accountable for the following:
- Delivering services and infrastructure to support healthy, safe, and just communities, simplify transactions and access to civic data, and curate and manage public spaces and utilities
Educating and engaging communities in rich conversations, connections, decisions, and the design of their future in a way that ensures the inclusion of all residents
Building economic and innovative engines and partnerships to support and sustain economic progress
Reshaping education and workforce development to service employment opportunities of the future
Advancing cities’ progress against their stated goals and values
OUR BALANCED AND COURAGEOUS PRINCIPLES
Be human-centered and collaborative. Cities should create an environment that is better for all people, increasing social cohesion, collaboration, and resilience and ensuring inclusion. Policies should prioritize people in the use of technologies. In conjunction with state, national governments, and supra-national organizations, cities have a responsibility to connect every individual with these “new utilities” and enable and empower entrepreneurs and enterprises seeking to build at the nexus of virtual worlds and cities.
Be proactive visionaries and responsible stewards. Cities should anticipate changes and be responsive to impacts on culture, lifestyle,security, and employment, with the aim of creating an environment where experimentation and creativity offers pathways for growth and better quality of life. Simultaneously, cities must invest appropriate resources in establishing guardrails on where, and with whom, an urban metaverse develops. This requires a level of understanding in city government that needs to be built.
Be locally rooted and globally connected. Cities should value the enormous brick and mortar assets in the communities where we work, immerse ourselves in local perspectives and opportunities, and work in deep partnership with students, families, educators, and community members. For example, libraries can support universal access to new virtual infrastructures. Cities should also seek to build an understanding of what is possible and what can be done together based on insights from outside of our communities and countries. This requires taking advantage of the ability to go so much finer and deeper in everything we do.
Be experimental and strategic. Cities should utilize shared impact measurement, participate in ongoing research and collective observations, and contribute to our “Mayor’s Guide to the Metaverse” in an effort to continually enhance and learn on this journey. Because the metaverse has the potential to affect almost every aspect of city life, cities should be broad and inclusive in planning for this future and the emerging ecosystems. This requires an ability to lean-in, fail-forward, and learn as we go.
Be transparent and open to continuous improvement. Cities should explore opportunities to utilize blockchain technologies to facilitate greater transparency, and accessibility to all city-based activities, with feedback loops from which we can learn.
The emerging technologies are transforming how we live and the definition of community. Collectively, they give us an ability to build a better future.