How Can the Metaverse Help State and Local Governments?

From SlateTech magazine

“The metaverse is the internet on steroids,” says Todd Richmond, IEEE member and director of the Tech + Narrative Lab at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Supported by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), the metaverse “will be more immersive than the internet, there will be a different kind of persistence in the experiences that people create. It will be more like an online gaming experience, an immersive first-person interaction,” he says.

All this offers a way “to make access to government better for more people and to make that access more equitable,” he says.

For example, with IoT sensors deployed throughout a city, device hacking becomes a major concern. Bad actors might try to access the sensors to manipulate the data in order to sway public opinion or drive a particular outcome, a practice known as narrative red-teaming.

“If there are sensors in some part of town and people want to manipulate that data, they may be able to do that,” Richmond says. “If you start to make information available, there will be people who will weaponize it and who will change the narrative or spin up false narratives. And now it’s backed by government data. Invariably, data can be misconstrued in a lot of really toxic ways.”

To secure their metaverse efforts, IT leaders will need to strategize early and be thoughtful in their implementations. “As you’re developing your interface, be thinking about what it is that you’re trying to expose, and also be thinking about the security issues,” Richmond says.

The metaverse will require rigorous security solutions, including multifactor authentication, advanced firewalls, threat detection technologies and data analytics, Forbes notes. In addition to applying protective technologies around their metaverse applications, it also makes sense for IT to enlist a wide range of talents in support of metaverse cybersecurity.

“Having a cybersecurity person goes without saying these days. You also need to have somebody on the team who’s thinking about how this information may be weaponized. Then you can create inoculation. You can put messaging out that gets ahead of those people who may try to turn this into toxic narratives,” Richmond says. “You really need storytellers as part of your team.”