THROUGH Bianca Heyward 09/16/2022
reading time: 3 protocol
At its September 12 adjourned study session, the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously agreed to explore the possibility of expanding into the metaverse. Billed as the next evolution of the internet, the Metaverse integrates physical and digital experiences and allows people to interact with technologies such as 3D computing, augmented reality, virtual reality, and blockchain. In the immersive virtual world, users can participate in virtual events, explore cities, and purchase non-downloadable virtual shoes, clothing, and accessories. While prosecutors filed a Class 41 trademark application in June to protect use of the city sign in the Metaverse, Mayor Lili Bosse requested that the council consider Beverly Hills’ entry into the Metaverse.
“Like it or not, the Metaverse is here and will continue to be,” Mayor Bosse said. “I want to make sure we’re really protecting our community, protecting Beverly Hills, and using it as a way to really tell our story.”
According to Travis Cloyd of Worldwide XR, an entertainment technology and digital agency, Santa Monica was the first city in the country to enter the Metaverse by offering a virtual way to experience its downtown district through FlickPlay, a Metaverse social app company . Users can explore an interactive map of the city and collect tokens, which can then be used to unlock digital experiences in the app or redeemed for physical items at city retailers.
“Think of these Metaverse ecosystems as followers that encourage more foot traffic and more awareness,” Cloyd said. “For example, I can text someone anywhere in the world and they get a snippet. You get the chance to immerse yourself in the virtual space for a short, limited time only. We hope that can persuade them to come here.”
To participate in the Metaverse and create content, the city would need to purchase digital space packs in the Metaverse using cryptocurrencies. After using cryptocurrencies to purchase digital real estate parcels in a Metaverse ecosystem, the city would be able to build a virtual replica of City Hall or Rodeo Drive. In the Metaverse, users can buy virtual property, goods, services, or non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and pay with cryptocurrency.
“I would absolutely support seeing this as a way to promote the city, not a new way of life,” Councilor John Mirisch said. “But it’s a form of recreation. People spend time there and can we reach them there? I think we should think of it more as a billboard than speculative real estate.”
However, Mirisch rejected anything that would oblige the city to use cryptocurrencies and suggested that the city conduct a cost-benefit analysis. “Unless they are developing carbon neutral cryptocurrencies, I would say staying away from anything cryptocurrency-related is a must,” Mirisch said.
Despite being dubbed the “wild west,” the town hopes to explore opportunities in the metaverse that use augmented reality to support tourism and the local economy. “I think that has so many advantages for our city,” said Mayor Bosse. “It can be an advertisement. It can be an information tool. We’re always looking for new ways to connect with our residents as well as those who don’t live in our city.”
Bosse indicated that she and Vice Mayor Julian Gold would attend future liaison meetings to explore the metaverse for the city before submitting it again to the council. “I think it’s important that we also protect our city’s brand and use this as an opportunity,” added Mayor Bosse.
“If we could use this as an educational tool for our residents and others, that would be great,” Vice Mayor Gold said. “If we can create avatars that help people through the planning process, that’s great.”