States and Metaverse: the Finland case

16 January 2024

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2024 started with big news for metaverse and blockchain. One of the things we must analyze is the relationship between States, worldwide, and the new web technologies. If 3D experiences will be enabled for citizens to have public services, something will really change in daily life. And here come the States political decisions, with their strategies and their regulations of the Metaverse.

Finland has recently presented its Metaverse Strategy, which should lead it to become one of the global excellences of the metaverse by 2035. The Netherlands and South Korea are also investing on it. They will begin to seriously poke their noses into it with investments, regulations and long-term plans in general. Will Italy stand by and watch or play an active game? And finally, speaking of regulations, the first positive signs are already widely visible. Here once again the European Union demonstrates that it knows how to lead. In fact, with the recently ratified Digital Markets Act, which imposes the progressive opening of digital store monopolies, we will finally begin to get closer to the much desired interoperability of the various social worlds virtual, and therefore perhaps to the true Metaverse imagined by technology theorists.

Finland's guidelines and values

The Finnish government report, entitled ‘Metaverse Initiative by the Finnish Ecosystem: Virtual Potential into Real-World Impact’, states that Finland would like to become “a global leader in the metaverse industry”. The country is home to leading companies in extended reality, such as Varjo, Dispelix, and Optofidelity, but also to important companies in the telecom sector, like Nokia and Cinia. Finland also ranks among the best in the world in several converging technologies. While China, Japan, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates have started to work on similar strategies, this is the first national metaverse strategy from an EU member state.

According to the Finnish report, as Euractiv reported, while there have been several definitions, today, “the term [metaverse] has been used to describe various visions of virtual worlds that are immersive and experiential, and that may integrate elements of the physical and digital worlds.”

For users, it is also possible to socialise, communicate, or trade in the metaverse and move between virtual worlds and platforms while transferring their data. According to Patrick Grady, editor at policy hub Metaverse EU, Finland’s “definition for the ‘metaverse’—and not ‘virtual worlds’—helps to clarify rather than confuse key elements of new immersive technology”.

In the report we can read: “Finland’s geopolitical position between superpowers of the world allows it to balance its interests between different actors and regions and to create mutual trust in other countries”.

The experience of Tampere City

Finland city Tampere has a pioneering position among metaverse cities and smart cities innovation. Many of the metaverse themes where at the center of Tampere Smart City Expo & Conference in Finland. By seamlessly combining the digital and physical worlds, the metaverse creates a vibrant digital environment that enhances the lives of city dwellers. It fosters and promotes a hassle-free everyday experience for citizens and provides a favorable platform for businesses to thrive. As Business wire reported, with its forward-thinking approach, Tampere is setting the stage for the future of urban living.

"We invite companies to test their solutions in Tampere. The city acts as a testing platform and an open partner for businesses and research. Through intelligent solutions, our goal is to enhance the well-being of citizens, provide a positive urban experience, and create favorable conditions for people's everyday lives", listed Teppo Rantanen, the Executive Director of Growth, Innovation and Competitiveness at the City of Tampere.

Tampere's metaverse development is a result of collaborations with industry-leading companies. Through partnerships with VTT and global technology giants such as Microsoft and Nokia. Revolutionize the urban planning and create intelligent solutions has to be mixed with the well-being of its residents.

Step by step, to create an ethical metaverse

2035 is the year, according to the report, that the annual metaverse industry turnover will be more than €30 billion. Finland aims to become a global leader by achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal and this would be translated in "reducing emissions, enhancing circularity, improving wellbeing, and fostering social cohesion”.

Finland’s Metaverse strategy highlights a firm commitment to protecting digital rights and ethics, placing premium importance on user privacy, security, and independence. The Finnish metaverse idea is shaped to connect “different actors, sectors, and domains” and to ensure an environment “for standardisation, regulation, cybersecurity, and education”. Metaverse has to be designed as "inclusive and accessible for all people regardless of their background, location, or abilities”. The other aspect that is underlined in the Finnish strategy towards metaverse is to become a “global advocate for digital rights and ethics in the metaverse”, making sure that the “users’ privacy, security, and autonomy are respected and protected” so to create transparency, and accountability in the governance and development of the metaverse.

Let's say in the end that step by step Finland could contribute to create a global model for States that wants to use web at the top of its potential, with the new immersive experience.

SOURCES: Euractiv, Businesswire

Read also: Metaverse: how many inhabitants?

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