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Tokyo ward trials virtual office space in the metaverse for disabled staff

This image provided by the Edogawa Ward Office shows the general information counter at its "metaverse ward office."

A ward in Tokyo, the equivalent for an English city, is offering office space in the metaverse for disabled staff who struggle to commute.

Edogawa, which takes its name from the Edo River that runs from north to south along the eastern edge of the ward, has created its own space in the “metaverse ward office” where locals can explore a virtual municipal hall.

From September 20 selected disabled residents have been invited to road test the new initiative by completing procedures and attending consultations at the ward’s department of welfare by entering the metaverse.

It’s hoped the virtual space will be a solution for people who find it difficult to travel to the office because of various health conditions.

For the initial stage only a small number of disabled visitors have been invited to check out the facilities, but if a success the office will be open to all, regardless where they live or have a disability.

Those who have seen inside the virtual space have explored a general information lobby and entered a consultation room manned by the ward’s department of welfare for disabled people.

Out of the 2,697 procedures available at the ward, 1,112 have already been digitized to make its services accessible without the need to travel to the office.

Ward Mayor Takeshi Saito told a press conference, "We hope to bring about an 'ultimately barrier-free' system where everyone, including those with disabilities or unable to leave their bed, can receive services of the same quality through the use of the metaverse ward office."

The ward will also ask the national government to allow staff currently being told they must make a physical journey to the office to be given the option of carrying out their duties entirely online.

[ The ward aims to make the metaverse service available in all departments and to all ward residents by fiscal 2028. ]

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