The world’s first digital nation. The pacific island nation of Tuvalu announced at COP27 that it aims to preserve itself against rising sea levels via a digital twin in the metaverse.
“As our land disappears, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation. Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets of our people. And to keep them safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we’ll move them to
In a surreal and foreboding video set in a lifelike but jittery digital backdrop, Tuvalu’s ministry has addressed this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) with the stark message that their island home is disappearing due to climate change and rising sea levels.
“We must take bold, alternative action today to secure tomorrow … we in the Pacific would not sit idly by and wait for the world to act … Since COP26, the world has not acted” (Simon Kofe)
Tuvalu is an archipelago of nine islands located between Australia and Hawaii with 12,000 residents. It is predicted that their entire pacific nation will be underwater by the end of the century.
“Islands like this one won't survive rapid temperature increases, rising sea levels, and droughts. So we'll recreate them virtually. Piece by piece we’ll preserve our country, provide solace to our people and remind our children and our grandchildren what our home once was” (Simon Kofe)
The “Future Now Project” will recreate all nine islands as digital twins in the metaverse, with Tuvalu becoming the world’s first digital nation.
“We have been working on these initiatives for the past year, building our capacity to retain and preserve our nation and the unity of our people even as climate change spirals out of control … Only concerted global effort can ensure that Tuvalu does not move permanently online and disappear forever from the physical plane.”
The recorded speech was set in a virtual clone of the Te Afualiku islet, part of Tuvalu’s capital of Funafuti and is one of the first lands of the Tuvalu nation to be submerged in the coming years. In the video address, the viewer gets to see a preview of what the metaverse version might look like.
“Our digital nation will provide an online presence that can replace our physical presence and allow us to continue to function as a state.” (Simon Kofe)
International law will have to find a way to recognize and treat citizens of Tuvalu if and when it does become a digital-only nation, as a nation only existing in the metaverse has never happened before.
“There is no international agreement that we can rely on that can recognize Tuvalu’s proposed new status. That is a challenge before us and we are now raising awareness and advocacy.” (Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu Finance Minister)
In current frameworks of international law, the disappearance of the physical Tavulu would result in a refugee situation and the need for new citizenship from their new home countries. A hypothetical solution involves dual citizenship tied to Tuvalu’s digital replica, which would be a ground-breaking development of international law.
You can visit https://www.tuvalu.tv/ to follow the progress of the digital nation and help save the real Tuvalu.
“Without a global conscience and a global commitment to our shared well-being, we may soon find the rest of the world joining us online as their lands disappear.” (Simon Kofe)
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Virtual reality is to be used to improve relationships between parents incarcerated in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and their children.
“... outside of recidivism, this is about creating a better life for somebody” (Deb Sahd, project lead)
In the United States, a pilot program leveraging virtual reality (VR) technology is to be carried out at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) which has purchased 21 Oculus Meta Quest 2 headsets for the initiative. The program is in partnership with Pennsylvania State University, which will conduct the post-program evaluation.
The program aims to better prepare incarcerated parents of children for reentry into society. It is hoped that the VR-enabled program will boost the engagement of children and improve their relationships with their potentially estranged parents.
The program will have two main focuses. Firstly, to facilitate VR-enabled visitations between the incarcerated parents and their children. Secondly, to improve outcomes from parent education programs focused on communication skills practised in virtual scenarios.
Children will have the option of using the VR services both at the DOC facility or at select community centres where a prison visitation has potential for adverse experiences.
There will be 11 different virtual visitations experiences available. These include a 360-degree colouring book that can be colored in by the parents and children together, and a virtual environment that is modelled after the International Space Station. The virtual experiences offer avatar customization to more closely remember the user’s own family and history.
The program’s reentry into society focused modules will allow incarcerated parents to practise healthy communication and parenting skills in a virtual environment. An example VR interaction is a conversation about setting boundaries around bedtime without creating confrontation.
Pennsylvania had already shown that it is open to embracing virtual reality technology with their police department already using VR training since April last year. The exploration and use of VR training has provided the DOC with the ability to extend two of their existing initiatives Parenting Inside Out and InsideOut Dads, with the evaluation from Penn State U due in 2023.
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Virtual reality is being used to show nurses what working in a real-life prison environment is like by England’s NHS.
“Immersive learning experiences can play a significant role in helping people considering a placement setting or career change to make an informed decision to what their new role might look like” (Patricia Howe, Immersive Technologies Program Manager at Health Education England)
Health Education England (HEE) and the Justice team of the National Health Service (NHS) have announced a partnership to develop a new virtual reality (VR) app “VR360” that simulates a prison healthcare environment for nurses.
“The immersive technology of the VR360 app offers the closest possible experience outside a real-life prison environment.” (Patricia Howe)
The immersive app will offer nurses a rounded experience of the adult prison healthcare environment via virtual scenarios where nurses can react to common real-life issues.
Initially, scenarios will focus on nurse placement opportunities in prison healthcare, developing awareness of the potential challenges faced in a prison environment, conflict resolution and de-escalation in an adult prison setting, managing pain relief for prisoners and general healthcare needs of adult prisoners.
“When we started to develop this piece of work we knew that we wanted to create something that would give student nurses an experience as close to real life as possible, without them going into a prison.” (Ellie Gordon, Senior Nurse at the HEE)
Nurses will use their real-life training and educational material available in the app, such as interviews with a mental health nurse, a healthcare officer and general practitioner (GP) who have experience and insights into prison healthcare.
“We wanted to be able to show students that prison clinic rooms look like any other clinic room, and a prisoner is a person with health needs, it’s just in a different setting. Once you get used to having the headset on and let yourself relax, it is a transformative experience, and you feel as if you have been transported into a prison clinic room.” (Ellie Gordon)
Nurses working for the NHS who are considering a career in adult prisons can download the app from HEE’s e-learning hub.
This event needs to be experienced, even if just the once, you never know you might find prison nursing is your new calling.” (Ellie Gordon)