Seeing through the hype: what potential does the metaverse hold for governments?

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May 23, 2023

The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which people can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Tech giants are increasingly interested in building technology for interacting with virtual worlds – a trend best epitomised by Facebook’s rebrand in 2021 as Meta to reflect its metaverse ambitions.

Governments are increasingly investigating – and investing in – its possibilities, seeking to create digital clones in the virtual world.

For example, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced in 2021 that it will establish a metaverse platform, proposing a gradual rollout of different services. The South Korean capital’s municipal government plans to consecutively provide business support facilities and services, including the Virtual Mayor’s Office and Seoul Fintech Lab.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dubai’s metaverse strategy, launched in July 2022, aims to turn Dubai into one of the world’s top 10 ‘metaverse economies’ as well as a global hub for the metaverse community. Developing ‘Web3’ technology and its applications to create ‘new governmental work models’ is among the ambitions.

This Global Government Fintech/Global Government Forum webinar sought to ask:

  • Are public authorities right to be exploring the metaverse?
  • What are the biggest opportunities for the delivery of citizen services?
  • What needs to happen for public authorities to be best able to tap these opportunities?



David Knott, Chief Technology Officer, Central Digital and Data Office, Cabinet Office, United Kingdom

David is Chief Technology Officer for UK government. He is a technology leader, strategist and architect with over 30 years experience across a range of industries, including banking, insurance, transportation, utilities and media. Prior to starting his current role in May 2023, David’s most recent roles were as an Expert Partner at Boston Consulting Group, as a Digital Transformation Officer at Google, and as Chief Architect at HSBC.

David has designed, constructed and led many large transformation initiatives throughout his career, including the strategy and design for Lloyds Banking Group’s integration of Halifax Bank of Scotland and divestment of TSB, and for HSBC’s strategic move as the first major global financial institution to adopt public Cloud at scale.

David believes passionately in the power of new technologies and new ways of working to liberate organisations from the constraints of their legacy technologies, and specialises in building teams, defining strategies and changing culture to achieve this goal.

David holds a PhD in Philosophy, specialising in Ethics. In recent years, he has applied this expertise in the fields of AI and data ethics, helping HSBC define its first set of ethical principles for the use of AI and data, and working as part of the Responsible AI teams at HSBC, Google and BCG.

Outside work, David kayaks regularly on the sea where he lives, attempts to keep on top of the latest developments in the field of technology ethics, and writes regularly on topics of technology, leadership and innovation in his weekly newsletter.

Hannah Yusuf-George, Deputy Director, Digital Strategy, Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, United Kingdom

Hannah Yusuf-George is Deputy Director for Digital Strategy in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and has been in this role since 2020. Her team focuses on new or emerging issues in the digital sphere. Before then, she worked variously on digital markets policy, EU exit policy in the Department for Exiting the European Union, with a major focus on Horizon 2020 funding, and education funding policy in the Department for Education. She began her career in think tanks. She received an OBE for public service in 2019.

Benjamin Welby, Policy Analyst – Digital Government and Data Unit, Open and Innovative Government Division (OIG), Directorate for Public Governance (GOV), OECD

As part of the OECD’s Digital Government and Data Unit, Benjamin Welby currently leads work supporting governments with digital identity, public sector digital talent and skills, and public service design and delivery.

His work has also covered the impact of digital government on citizen well-being and the data-driven public sector. He has carried out Digital Government Reviews and capacity building work in Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.

Prior to the OECD, Benjamin spent several years at the UK Government Digital Service as a lead product manager. Benjamin holds an MSc in Public Administration from the University of Birmingham; and an MA in Post-War Recovery Studies and a BA in History from the University of York.

Gayatri Pandurangi, Senior Technical Director, National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India

Dr. Gayatri is currently Senior Director (IT)/Scientist – F in National Informatics Centre, Government of India. Her career of 29 years at NIC is a blend of handling challenging e-Governance IT projects right from System architecture through implementation and technical support. She is Ph.D in the faculty of Computer Science in blended disciplines of Enterprise Architecture and e-Governance. She is a certified Software Quality Professional (CSQP) from STQC, Government of India. She has been a panel member at the meet of IT Secretaries of SAARC countries. She has vast experience in handling various e-Governance projects of citizen reach, like Land Records, Property Registration, Civil Registration System etc.

She has been a member of the Working Group preparing Reference Enterprise Architecture framework called “IndEA” for Government Enterprises in India. She has been instrumental in the preparation of Blue Print for Digital Transformation of Republic of Mauritius, Blue Print for Digital Transformation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Enterprise Architecture document for LandHub (for Revenue department, Govt of Andhra Pradesh), among many others.

She is currently heading “CollabFiles” a G2G platform, for creation and collaboration of office documents.

SuAn Wang, External Relations Manager, Digital Policy Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea

SuAn Wang (Ms.) is currently working as an External Relations Manager at the Digital Policy Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea. The Digital Policy Division is in charge of shaping the digital policies for the city Seoul, international cooperation between other smart cities and implementing Metaverse Seoul. She also has experience in the private sector in the planning of smart cities. She has worked at the DBEW (Design Beyond East and West) institute in Korea designing new smart city projects as a part of shaping future business opportunities.

Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.