|Kwon Moon-yong |
Mayer of Gangnam-gu District Office
Among Korea's local governments, Gangnam-gu District Office, Seoul, is becoming a model 'Ubiquitous-Intelligent City' under the rubric, 'U-Smart Gangnam'.
To whit, the municipality has introduced a new concept of electronic government that enables the issuance of civil documents without requiring a visit to a 'gu' or 'dong office.' The moves stem from an informatization project that was launched as an initiative of the gu's fist popularly-elected local government in late 1995.
When the plan materializes, residents will be able to attend to various civil affairs freely without restrictions as to time or place through their mobile phones. In future, Gangnam officials will be able to work not only in their offices, but also will be able to approve permits, etc., electronically on their way to and from work. They will able to acquire necessary information even when away from their offices and act on the results.
Such its sophistication that Gangnam mayor Kwon Moon-yong ranks the municipality's e-government system as one of the world's best, he said in a special interview with The Korea IT Times. Mayor Kwon said that the district office set up its second informatization strategic plan (ISP) in late September to establish its direction regarding the new e-government project with the aim of making it ubiquitously accessible. He said that phases 1 and 2 of Gangnam's comprehensive informatization project were completed successfully in 2003.
Since 1997, Gangnam-gu has launched a total of 71 informatization projects including 'Cyber City' and 'Smart Gangnam'.
'U-SMART: the challenge of making e-government ubiquitous in six fields
As part of the ISP, the Gangnam-gu has announced its three-year middle-term fulfillment plan to realize its 'U-SMART program of making e-government ubiquitous in six areas of application under the following rubrics:
U-portal Provides information through mobile phones and services, exclusively for handicapped citizens.
U-administration Allows citizens to handle administrative matters anywhere. Also, government officials can execute work through their mobile phones
U-culture Construction of a wireless zone will make the Internet more accessible and enable citizens to receive information about cultural facilities and tourism services through mobile phones. The same program will include a cultural facility portal, allowing access to cultural centers and libraries within Gangnam-gu.
U-welfare Provides automatic voice guides for handicapped citizens, distance health management services for shut-ins, and information to prevent kidnappings and children getting lost.
U-environment Constant monitoring of noise levels at construction site plus the quality of water and air pollution by utilizing micro-sensors.
U-distribution Involves developing a system that promotes outsourcing, improving stability in the food supply for the indigent by building food banks, and controlling the distribution of harmful pharmaceuticals such as narcotics by embedding electronic chips in products..
Mr. Kwon has committed himself to sharing the Office's know-how and technology with other local governments, adding that Gangnam-gu District Office will play a leading role in maintaining Korea's lead in ubiquitous, next-generation e-government.
Starting from its U-civil applications issuance system launched in December 2004, Gangnam plans to consolidate its position as having the top e-government in the world by constructing the most advanced information system to date. Specific examples are as follows.
First, from April 1, 2004 the Gangnam-gu office has used an e-fingerprint recognition system to confirm identities during the process of passport applications. Now that passport forgery crimes have multiplied rapidly from 867 in late 2002 to 1,840 in 2003, measures to counter a passport illegal issuance are urgent. Forged passports costing several million won each that are sold on the black market, mainly in China, are causing massive problems.
Second, since May 1, 2004, in a first for Korea, Gangnam-gu office has kept an e-record of a person's fingerprints when issuing a certificate for an applicant's personal seal. This was necessary because of the large floating population, the mayor said.
Third, the Gangnam-gu District Office now notifies its residents of yellow sand and ozone conditions through their e-mail and cellular phones.
A system other jurisdictions want to benchmark
|The Gangnam New Transit Monorail Project|
Gangnam-gu ISP is being watched closely by other district offices since it is the first attempt by a local government to make interactions with its citizens not only electronic but also ubiquitous and mobile. The District Office's presentation meeting on the completion of its second ISP drew roughly 100 officials from Jeju International City, Busan Metropolitan City, the City of Chungju, the City of Suweon, and Seoul Metropolitan City who demonstrated high interest in the new informatization system by questioning experts from agencies such as the Ministry of Information and Communication, National Computerization Agency, and the Ubiquitous IT Forum.
Mr. Kwon commented that Gangnam-gu District Office has received some 1,500 visitors from 50 countries who are interested in learning more about the new system and benchmarking it in their own countries. They include representatives of NHK TV of Japan, the Alsace Economic Development Board of France, the Bulgarian minister of government administration and home affairs, the mayor of Saga City, Japan and more.
In particular, there have been continual visits by overseas IT executives, particularly from the Osaka region of Japan.
He added that in particular, that Saga City is currently constructing an e-government system modeled on the Gangnam project. The deal was made on condition that Gangnam-gu helps the city construct its e-government system and provides the necessary know-how. To this end, Gangnam-gu has selected Samsung SDS and e-corporation JP to construct such a system for the city of Saga. The two companies have already provided Gangnam-gu with 28 million won as a first royalty payment in accordance with their agreement to give a total of $40,000 in royalties to the District Office.
Japanese start-up, e-corporation. JP has received a consultation contract worth 1.3 billion won in regard to Saga's e-government project, and Samsung SDS, 10 billion won. The two companies are scheduled to provide the remaining royalty payment to the Gangnam-gu District Office as their work on the project continues.
Mr. Kwon stressed, "This is the first time that a domestic local government's e-government project has been benchmarked in overseas." He added that the District Office's know-how has paved for the way for domestic IT companies to enter the Japanese e-government construction business.
In addition, as a result of the effort by Syracuse University of the United States to publicize Gangnam-gu's achievements in e-government, the District Office has been invited to give presentations on the topic to global bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank.
TV e-government model to boost efficiency of the service for the people
|Gangnam District Office|
Gangnam-gu District Office held a press conference on Nov. 25 to explain and introduce its Internet TV Broadcasting Station.
Describing the innovation as 'TV e-government' Mr. Kwon said it was intended to supply district residents with administrative services in real-time through TV by taking advantage of the technology of the digital broadcasting era.
The TV e-government project, the Mayor said will help boost national efficiency by providing information on daily life and enabling administrative matters to be resolved in real-time. He added that it would also help bridge the information gap between generations and social strata, and contribute to nurturing new IT growth engine industries.
Mr. Kwon said that the TV e-government project was made possible by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs through the provision of a 16.066-billion won budget from November 2004 through to December 2005.
Mayor said that the project would reduce costs by the District Office and by citizens amounting to 15.5 billion won annually. Furthermore, he emphasized, "The TV e-government project will stimulate digital ITV-related industries develop as new growth engines, thereby promoting Korea's digital capability through knock-on industry effects."
Gangnam-gu Internet TV Broadcasting Station |
The main contents are
Live broadcasts of the latest news and major policy hearings
On-site reports of civil affairs
Educational and cultural lecture broadcasts (on the Internet, hobbies, and leisure activities)
Culture/fine arts broadcasts: concerts, movies, recitals, and more
Real time traffic conditions and event information
Establishment of programs in which citizens can participate and debate: hear and share suggestions and opinions
Gangnam-gu District Office demonstrated its e-government system at ITU Telecom Asia 2004, held at the BEXCO, Busan from September 7 through September 11. The mayor said the fact that the District Office had been invited to participate at such a prestigious international event is an indication of how well-recognized its e-government project is both at home and abroad. The stand run by the Office at the exhibition featured 9 services within three 'zones': the E-Gangnam zone, T-Gangnam zone (focusing on the Internet TV broadcasting service), and U-civil application issuance system zone, this latter operating through PDAs, mobile phones, fax machines, and e-mail.
Gangnam-gu is also gaining attention from other local governments because of its Monorail project now under construction. When completed, the 6.6km monorail will connect Hakyeoul and Shinsa stations.
"The Gangnam New Transit Project is an appropriate solution to the traffic congestion in Seoul and a means of improving living conditions just one-notch higher," Mayor Kwon said.
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