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Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward Opens Metaverse Office To Serve Residents

The ward’s move is an attempt to improve accessibility and ensure that administrative services are accessible to all

The Edogawa Ward in Tokyo is pioneering a new experiment by launching a virtual ward office within the metaverse. According to The Asahi Shimbun, this initiative seeks to offer administrative services to those who may not have the option to visit the physical office in person.

Within this virtual ’metaverse ward office,’ residents of the area can use avatars to explore a digital version of the municipal building, mirroring the physical layout. The ward’s ultimate objective is to offer this service to all its residents and expand its coverage to encompass all departments by the fiscal year 2028. 

Accessibility in the metaverse

As of September 20th, specific local communities with a particular focus on individuals with disabilities, have been provided access to perform administrative procedures and seek consultations within the virtual disability welfare department. This approach is rather uncommon across the nation and is designed to guarantee that administrative services are inclusive and available to all, even those encountering challenges in visiting the physical ward office.

In the initial testing stage, access to the virtual office is restricted to designated groups of individuals with disabilities as outlined by the ward. Inside this virtual environment, users will discover a general information lobby as well as a consultation room managed by the ward’s disability welfare department. Users can also communicate through both audio and chat features.

Among the 2,697 procedures provided by the ward, 1,112 have already transitioned to digital processes. Also, 103 out of the ward’s 139 departments that offer consultation services now facilitate online consultations.

Bigger metaverse goals

The metaverse office’s implementation is in harmony with the ward’s larger policy goals. Based on insights and input from users during the trial phase, the ward’s objective is to extend metaverse services to include all departments and cater to all residents by the fiscal year 2028, which coincides with the scheduled relocation of municipal government facilities.

According to Mayor Takeshi Saito during a press conference, “We hope to bring about an ‘ultimately barrier-free’ system where everyone, including those with disabilities or those confined to their beds, can receive services of the same quality through the use of the metaverse ward office.”

Edogawa Ward is actively working to collaborate with the national government to push for the transformation of procedures that currently necessitate in-person visits, often due to legal requirements, to be made fully online. 

Written By

Isa Muhammad is a writer and video game journalist covering many aspects of entertainment media including the film industry. He's steadily writing his way to the sharp end of journalism and enjoys staying informed. If he's not reading, playing video games or catching up on his favourite TV series, then he's probably writing about them.

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