SEOUL, KOREA ― South Korea, also known as the “IT leader,” is making headway in creating Smart city or Ubiquitous city (u-City). However, awareness of the general public on Smart city is low. There are other hurdles to overcome, such as securing a budget for large-scale projects. Smart city utilizes high-tech computer networks to efficiently manage the city. City dwellers can also access necessary information whenever and wherever.
Since 2009, the Korean government has designated u-City project as a new power of growth and released the “first u-City general plan.” The Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs hosted “u-City World Forum” in November 2011 to help set an international standard to pave the way for exports of Smart city and promote Korea’s technology abroad. The government gave a positive assessment of the forum, at which working-level officials of the Smart city projects in Europe and other countries showed great interest. This will provide a brighter future for Korea’s Smart city project export.
The government is now in full swing to help Smart city export this year. The Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy which are related to the Smart city industry have come together to give pizzazz to the individual city of the future and merge information facility systems to increase added value, and ultimately set the standard for the Smart city project export.
Smart City Has Culture
Although the Smart city project has sailed smoothly so far, it is not easy to satisfy all residents who live in the Smart city. In this regard, Lee Sang-ho, Senior consultant of the Convergence Business Center at Korea Productivity Center said “We need to approach Smart city from a humanistic perspective.”
“Residents living within the Smart city can not tangibly feel the Smart city since it was not developed on demand by the residents. It was designed through the perspective of city engineers,” elaborated Mr. Lee.
Lee gave Steve Jobs as an example. “The iPhone became a global success because Jobs had a deep understanding of the consumer’s needs. An LG Group affiliate, NEO Point, introduced the smartphone before the iPhone but failed. Cyworld gave way to Facebook not because of technological downfall, but because they didn’t have culture,” explained Lee.
“Smart city should not start in newly built cities, but from existing and developed ones,” asserted Lee. Residents will not be impressed with a Smart city that lacks infrastructure. People will want Smart city if they witness successful application in an already developed city that is now accommodating problems, such as transportation, security, and pollution.
What Smart city Dwellers Want
Forbes magazine released a list of World’s Smartest Cities at the end of 2009. Smart city is a common noun that refers to an environmentally friendly, “good-place-to-live” city. The cities were analyzed and ranked using three key words: environmental friendliness, knowledge-based, and self sustainability. A smart city that outperformed others was self sustaining. Knowledge was necessary to support the city that had a special economic culture and that economic power helped to achieve an eco-city. Every city must resolve food issues in order to become a city with a competitive edge, and knowledge to its resolution.
“It is important to construct a Smart city that meets residents’ needs,” said Lee. Added value can be created through constructing Smart city that reflects regional characteristic, such as administration-centered, historic/culturally endowed, or industrially developed.
Mr. Lee is an adviser to many local governments, including Bucheon City, which is pursuing Smart city headed by resident consultations. Once a month, Bucheon City residents, civic workers and Mr. Lee gather together to discuss what is needed for their Smart city so that they maintain regional characteristic and culture, while economically self sustainable. They are cooperating to achieve city engineering, economy and governance simultaneously.
“Smart city can become a complete product when it meets economic self sustainability through containing knowledge and culture that are essential to the city and not just by dressing a newly constructed city with IT,” said Lee. “If Korea can achieve the Smart city project that contains Korea’s uniqueness, or even K-smart city, then the project can become a popular export like K-Pop or K-Drama,” he predicted.
The 2nd story of the Smart city in a five-part series.
Smart City plans five-part series
1. A scenario of Smart City
- A Look into the Smart City
2. The issues of Smart City
- The Clue for developing Smart City
3. Strategies for exporting and support from government
4. Case study ; domestic and abroad
5. Future models of Smart City