Skip to main content Skip to footer


Harnessing the power of metaverse in public service


April 19, 2023

Public service organizations are facing unprecedented pressure to meet the needs of a world in a state of permacrisis, where instability is the norm. And as Accenture’s recent Total Enterprise Reinvention report identifies, these high levels of social and economic disruption have been accompanied by rapid technological change.

However, people’s response to crisis and change is always (eventually) to adapt. Public service leaders now have the opportunity to respond proactively to this shifting social and digital landscape. Put simply, we are on the brink of a technology revolution and nowhere is this clearer than with the emergence of the metaverse.

Meeting crisis with innovation

Accenture’s recent Metaverse: evolution, then revolution report highlights how technology advancements in generative AI, quantum computing, blockchain and extended reality have been happening gradually but are now suddenly at a critical tipping point. Each of these underlying technologies have been maturing over time in their respective siloes. Now this innovation is converging and colliding to create new experiences, possibilities and value.

We call this collection of technologies the metaverse continuum, or the next evolution of the internet. Think about how intertwined we are with the internet already - it's a part of everything – and this next evolution is going to be more immersive, interactive and interesting for residents, communities, businesses and governments.

The next evolution of the internet is going to be more immersive, interactive, and interesting for residents, communities, businesses and governments.

The pandemic demonstrated why public service organizations must embrace change like this and showed that they are capable of doing it at pace. Now, as we move into a period of permacrisis and technological revolution, this capacity will be more important than ever. As the Accenture Technology Vision 2023 highlights, these changes will establish more seamless connections between our digital and physical lives, creating a unique opportunity for public service agencies.

They can leverage the metaverse continuum to meet their constituents most pressing demands, like accessing services more easily, and they could help solve more long-term challenges, like climate change. Leaders now have a brand-new set of tools to reimagine service delivery and build a more resilient, efficient and resident-centric government.

Many public service organizations have already begun to make impressive progress. Though some of them may not even consider how their work taps into the broader metaverse continuum, they are realizing the value today.

The early adopters

The Indiana Child Welfare Services agency has been using the Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS) to improve staff retention. By giving prospective social workers virtual insight into the real, raw experience of visiting a family in a home, the department has been able to prepare potential staff for the more difficult aspects of the job. Leveraging this extended reality solution has helped the agency reduce staff turnover by 31%, in a time when governments are facing high levels of attrition.

Similar technology has also been used to benefit communities more directly. Accenture worked with Goodwill on Project OVERCOME, helping people impacted by the US criminal justice system develop the skills they need to find sustainable employment with immersive interview practice and coaching sessions. And Accenture is now working with BehaVR to expand access to mental and behavioral healthcare through virtual reality based digital therapeutics.

Equally, digital identity solutions have received major focus from national governments. As far back as 2018 the leadership of Austin, Texas piloted how blockchain could provide homeless people with the digital identity they needed to access critical services. In South Korea the government is planning to launch a national mobile digital identity in 2024, but many are already using the existing blockchain enabled mobile driving license. And on a larger scale, the European Union (EU) is gearing up a public and private sector collaboration to give every EU citizen a digital identity wallet.

These are just a few examples of how leaders are leveraging the metaverse continuum to address immediate challenges. However, we are also witnessing how these technologies could be applied to the systemic issues that governments around the world are tackling.

The World Economic Forum is exploring how a virtual collaboration space could be used to create more sustained engagement between stakeholders. The Global Collaboration Village could help include a greater range of voices in key conversations and visualize alternative futures together. And this is just one example of how metaverse technologies could foster greater diplomatic engagement to address shared social issues of all kinds.

Shaping the future right now

By focusing on the value that can be realized today from specific applications of metaverse continuum technologies, public service organizations can better deliver on their core mission and lay the foundations for future innovation. To do it, here are some key principles that could help chart the path:

  1. Engage with the early building blocks – this includes preparing foundational technology like cloud infrastructure and digital identity, but it will also mean thinking about how and when to regulate this changing technology landscape.
  2. Start small and focused – the technology is changing fast, so start with small experiments that answer existing needs. Quickly measure value, learn from mistakes and then focus on scaling those that work.
  3. Be creative but keep it simple – the metaverse is likely to create completely new ways of working, but at this early stage it is important to build experiences that fit existing user expectations while also helping them develop the skills to manage this technology and work effectively in this new landscape.
  4. Embed responsibility – this is an opportunity to build trust into systems from the start as well as meet wider sustainability goals by considering both ethics and standards during the initial stages.
  5. The internet has been evolving since it began, and the next evolution will create an even more seamless link between our digital and physical lives. However, the underlying technologies of this metaverse revolution are already being applied across the public sector around the world. Now, on the brink of radical change, it is time to start recognizing how they can converge to do even more to create real value for public service organizations and the people they serve.

Read Accenture’s recent Metaverse: evolution, then revolution report to explore how the metaverse is poised to revolutionize the way we interact with each other, businesses and governments. I’d welcome the chance to discuss your questions, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Kristin McElderry

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, Metaverse