SEOUL, KOREA — “Seoul City is pushing for ‘Smart Seoul 2015’ for the qualitative happiness of its residents from 2011 to 2015,” says Dr. Hwang Jong-sung, Assistant Mayor for Information Technology (CIO) of Seoul Metropolitan government.
“Seoul’s budget for informatization in 2011 stood at 129,501 million won, accounting for 0.63% of Seoul’s total budget. Despite its small budget, the program has significantly contributed to making Seoul one of the most hi-tech cities in the world.
Lately, the inauguration ceremony for the new Seoul mayor Park Won-soon has attracted eyes of people and mass media as it was entirely conducted online. The online ceremony was broadcast live through the Internet from 11:00 to 11:40 am on November 16 of 2011. During the broadcast, Mayor Park opened his office room, pledge allegiance to the nation, delivered his inauguration speech and took questions from residents through SNS.
About 75,000 people watched the Internet broadcasting live and 5,000 questions or opinions were sent to the mayor through SMS. In addition, about 8,000 people watched the ceremony on their mobile devices.
“The online inauguration ceremony was successfully held with a smaller budget compared to previous authoritarian and formal ceremonies, suggesting a new model of inauguration ceremonies for government organizations, companies and groups,” Dr. Hwang says.
Smart Seoul 2015
The Smart Seoul 2015 project is a pre-emptive and active informatization plan as 80% of Seoul residents are expected to use smartphones or smart devices and 30% are expected to purchase smart TVs by 2015. “We are planning to make Seoul the “best smart technology city” in the world by 2015,” Dr. Hwang continues.
The Smart Seoul 2015 project will expand Seoul’s smart infrastructure, help more people enjoy advanced IT services, provide Seoul City services through smart devices, create jobs, enhance the level of information security and realizing the finest e-government in the world.
“We expect that advanced IT technologies will be applied to all sectors in citizens’ life and even senior citizens will make use of smart devices and applications after receiving education in 2015,” Dr. Hwang adds.
The city is also planning to reduce its crime rate by expanding CCTV monitoring. “We are also planning to promote a Seoul-friendly application business industry and establish an incubator center in the Sangam-dong IT complex,” Dr. Hwang explains.
The Seoul Metropolitan government is providing various information and online services through the Internet and smartphones and is steadily upgrading services by collecting opinions of residents. The e-government service of Seoul City is comprised of three major parts – strong communication with citizens, convenient services for citizens and addressing negative impacts of informatization.
Seoul city is working to transform the official web site to go beyond the traditional duties of announcing city news and providing service-related information. Instead, a new web site will promote proactive interaction between the city and its residents. Residents will be able to easily submit petitions as well as participate in the decision-making process concerning the city. A resident-centric site that takes advantage of social media is also currently under development.
In addition to the regular web site of Seoul City, the city is offering mobile portal services in ten sectors. Furthermore, advanced smartphone applications of Seoul City provides citizens with information on restaurants, TBS broadcasting, travel, location of public rest rooms and taxi-call service.
Moreover, the city is distributing PCs for marginalized people who do not have PCs so that they can use information services at home. For visually challenged people and the disabled, the city distributes magnifying devices and Braille terminals. Other activities include repairing PCs, implementing projects to prevent people from Internet addiction, Internet counseling and free ubiquitous study programs.
World's Top e-Government
The excellence of Seoul e-government was duly recognized in the evaluation of e-governments by reliable organizations. For example, Seoul e-government came in first for four consecutive times running in the evaluation of of the World’s 100 Cities.
“The Seoul e-government became a benchmark for countries and cities around the world,” Dr. Hwang adds. "Foreign public officials, businessmen and scholars have visited Seoul City to observe its e-government system and facilities. Over the past three years, 893 people from 155 countries have come to Seoul to observe and learn about the Seoul e-government."
Seoul Designated as President City for World e-Government Organization (WeGo)
Accordingly, the Seoul government has laid the foundation by holding its World e-Government Mayors Forum in 2008. Finally in September 2010, the World e-Government Organization (WeGO) was established with Seoul as the president city.
Since then, the Seoul government is playing the role of the leader for e-governments in the world. The number of the member cities of the WeGO is 50, including big cities of the U.S., Canada, France and developing countries in Africa. The members cooperate with one another via the WeGO. Of late, the WeGO has surged in popularity internationally. For example, three cities have recently applied for membership.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government suggests distributing its e-government standard framework to member cities of the WeGO in a meeting of the Executive Committee of WeGO held in Barcelona of Spain in last October. The suggestion was adopted. The Committee has also agreed to launch WeGO Awards to identify, recognize, and disseminate best practices of e-government. Cities and local governments as well as public organizations around the world can apply for the awards.
Online applications will be available from February 2012, and the winners will be presented at the second General Assembly of 2012 to be held in Barcelona on 19-20 November 2012.
The following is series on the Korean e-Government system from June 2011
April, 2012 — Local government office that provides e-government service through a TV in the Kangnam governmental office
May, 2012 — E-Procurement System that manages the whole process of bids & contracts electronically
June, 2012 — Home tax System
July, 2012 — A collection of articles on e-government by IT Times.