With the increasing interest in the concept of “Metacity” across the globe, it is clear that the metaverse is shaping the cities of the future. The United States, China, Singapore, Japan, and other countries are developing Metacities where immersive technologies are integrated into how cities work and the way people live.
While Europe struggles to establish itself as a leader in emerging technologies, it is fast gaining ground in helping shape the future of virtual worlds.
In a letter of intent by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU specifies a Europe fit for the digital age as one of its key initiatives for 2023. It notes that initiatives on virtual worlds, such as the metaverse, are among its priorities next year.
Aside from this, a more concrete action toward building Europe’s Metacities is already underway in Latvia.
Riga, Latvia, Chosen as the Bed of Metacity Development in Europe
Based on a study by Cambridge Executive MBA students, the capital city of Latvia has the potential to become the next successful Megacity in Europe. The city was chosen based on its existing connectivity infrastructure, partners, innovators, and political will.
With 5G base stations across the region, Riga boasts a strong cellular network ranked 5th in Europe in terms of internet speed. It’s also well-connected within the Baltics, making it easily accessible to other cities and countries.
Aside from the solid infrastructure, the city also has a strong technical university that has become a hotbed for innovators. Along with local technology companies and a well-connected community, Riga becomes an ideal setting for metaverse deployment and adoption.
Riga Signs a Memorandum With Industry Partners at 5G Techritory Forum
Earlier this year, Riga launched a state-supported initiative to develop its own metaverse. It is set to undertake the immense challenge of creating a city-level testbed of Metaverse applications with practical use cases that benefit citizens and enterprises.
To put the Riga Metacity initiative into action, Riga signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the 5G Techritory Forum. Twenty-two industry partners signed the MoU to mark their commitment to the metaverse project.
“I congratulate us that, with our signatures, we have now expressed our willingness and readiness to be not just talkers, but also doers,” said Neils Kalniņš, 5G Techritory Program Director. “Already this January, we will come together to discuss how we can create practical applications for the Metaverse. A safe and green future of the Metaverse will be Latvia’s contribution to the world, and I look forward to it.”
The key aim of this memorandum is to establish a central authority on XR that will coordinate the development of the Metacity. After which, all other activities and procedural steps will be decided and undertaken including the platform regulations, sourcing of funds, coordinating development, and much more.
Riga Metacity: Driving Forward the Future of XR in Europe
The Riga Metacity initiative is one of the first and largest Metaverse projects in Europe. It is expected to attract a sizeable share of the estimated $1,500 billion market size by 2030 which will greatly benefit the local community and government.
However, the benefits go far beyond the city. With this initiative, Riga drives forward extended reality research, technology, and applications across Europe. The regional initiative and development are also expected to accelerate the overall competitiveness of the European Union. It opens an opportunity to develop capabilities to maintain high economic growth and drive the future of XR forward.