SEOUL, KOREA – An inaugural meeting of the Global e-governance forum was held at New Seoul Hotel on April 27 in Seoul. The topic of the meeting was the advent and the direction of the e-governance era: novel thinking and the future of e-government. The moderator, Ahn Moon-suk, an emeritus Professor at Korea University started the meeting saying that new paradigm of e-government is 'participation' and 'sharing'. "This forum will be a venue where governments, universities, research institutions and U.N. share their knowledge and experience of e-governance. As an advanced country in information technology, Korea should share more of their information and best practices with developing countries to bridge the global digital divide through the forum, and this will help the country build a long-term trust with the partner countries."
The advent and the direction of the e-governance era
Myeong Seung-hwan, Professor of Inha University, lectured on New Perspectives on E-Governance and Evaluation Model. “Web 2.0 and the newly developed web 3.0 technologies showcase the possibility of citizens’ role in the process of value creation and social agendas as well as the process of policy decision-making. New SNS technologies such as Semantic, Wikipedia, and Mash-up have proved that unanimous customers are now holding the power to create new content and values. Individuals can create political agendas and lead discussion groups, and collective intelligence via Wikipedia overcomes the limitations of conventional theories and wisdoms.”
He went on to say that, “The issues of e-government cannot simply be approached in a single organization or bridged across organizations without understanding the dynamic interactions between different organizations and people which influence organizational settings, power structures, and even cultures. It seems reasonable to suppose that there is a strong relationship between e-government and trust. The role of e-government leads to citizen trust and government transparency.”
Next Min Kyung-bae, Professor of Kyung Hee Cyber University, talked about Concept and Prospect of Social Learning. “Traditional methods of education have transitioned from conventional classroom learning, one-way white board lectures, and paper textbooks to cyber education, two-way video lectures and multimedia lesson plans. How did we learn how to utilize computers and the Internet How was it possible that the public attained specialized knowledge about gene replication It wasn’t from textbooks or teachers at school. Most of them learnt it from anonymous Internet users or are able to restructure fragmentary information gained from social networks.”
He continued on saying that “in the age of Web 2.0, education is moving toward openness, sharing, and participation. Students and voters, particularly in Asian countries, are traditionally passive in regards to expressing ideas. These days, however, they are interacting with teachers with the help of information technology. Wikiversity has produced and shared information ranging from school to research activities with over 120,000 users. Starting in 2002 at MIT in the U.S., OCW enables users to view college materials online for free, and currently 100 universities around the world are participating in the program. TED which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design provide lectures from diverse specialists including scholars, business and civic activists from various countries. Thousands of volunteers are translating the lectures into their own languages.”
Kim Dae-young, Business Architecture Principal of Samsung SDS explained about UNI-PASS and its success factors. UNI-PASS is the Internet Clearance Portal System for Korea Customs Service established by Samsung SDS. It provides a convenient and cost effective solution for customs clearance that utilizes the Internet. “UNI-PASS had low brand images five years ago prior to working in conjunction with the government. Its success factors for export are mainly due to an initiative in government-wide promotion systems. Due to this initiative UNI-PASS has seen a considerable increase in brand image, and is now highly regarded in the global market." The moderator said that public organizations are essential for reliability. "However, companies should provide them with trust first. Instead of taking and giving, companies should use their accumulated knowledge and experience to build trust.”
The future direction of Korean e-government system
Following these speeches, specialists on e-government talked about the future direction of Korean e-government system. Hong Pil-ky, Professor of Seoul Digital University, said that information technology has enabled and evolved relationship between lecturers and learners, and the government and citizens. Learners and citizens were both previously passive, but now they actively participate in learning methods as well as policy making.
Lee Joo-yeoun, Head of Green Industry Business Unit of POSCO ICT said that, “To improve e-government, more cooperation is needed within governments and private sectors. Ministries should break down walls to collaborate together. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) should cooperate with the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) because MOPAS can fully utilize the extensive global network of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), an affiliated organization with the MKE. Businesses should cooperate with one another. Large companies are good at marketing and SMEs are successful at providing solutions. Large companies can sell the products of SMEs with their marketing power. Indeed, with a prosperous joint effort between ministries and companies, Korea could become the global business leader.”
You Wan-ok, Vice President of SK C&C said that from a business perspective, more support from the government is a necessity. Going global is still difficult due to strict government regulation. For the companies to make inroads into the global markets, more support from governments, affiliated organizations and research institutions is required.
Kim Hyeon-kon, Executive Director of National Information Society Agency said that the topic of today is quite impressive. We have preconceived stereotypes regarding schools and policy making. However, information technology is now leading the transformation away from this stereotype. Participation, openness, sharing and cooperation will drive Korea in a better direction.
Choi Un-ho, Senior ICT Security Officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that, “There is good news for the Korean e-government industry. The Federal government of the U.S. announced a new policy direction. Officials can now use their smart phone as identification by saving authentication certificates which enable iris and fingerprint recognition. They will also be used in all harbors which export and import. Visa and MasterCard are also planning to save fingerprints on credit cards to enable users to access computers. These changes will provide solid opportunities for Korean businesses, as Korea is the global leader in fingerprint authentication infrastructure, and Korean officials are already using authentication as a means of entry. Personally, I want to apply them to UN entry identification cards."
Ahn Moon-suk, the moderator, wrapped up the discussion by saying that, “In the global era, Korea should be participatory and open. We should share our experiences with developing countries openly and with sincerity. This will create trust which will subsequently generate a business model based on that. The government should take the lead and cooperate with private sectors.”
Sharing experience and knowledge with developing countries
Seo Pil-eon, the Vice minister of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) delivered a congratulatory message. “Korea has topped the U.N. E-government report for two consecutive years. This proved that Korean e-government is world-class. Now, the government is working hard to assist in the global digital divide, and an increasing number of countries are visiting Korea to learn the know-how. Statistics show that over 200 public servants from around 200 countries have visited Korea. This Korean wave started which began with culture is now extending to administration. We are sharing our best practices through Information Access Centers, of which the government has established thirty of around the world, and also through education programs inviting overseas public servants to Korea to share various experience and knowledge."
He continued, “We are expanding our cooperation to South America, the Middle East, and Africa in collaboration with international organizations such as the U.N. and OECD. Last week, I visited Ecuador and El Salvador, two nations which place a high valuation on Korean e-government. The export of Korea’s e-government system was a mere USD 100,000 in 2002, but in the years following it has surpassed USD 200 million and it expected to reach USD 300 million this year. Korean e-government system has attained this globally recognized success through various efforts from the government and private sectors. With the participation of such diverse organizations and specialists, this forum is very meaningful and timely.”
“UNDP has proposed that we work together to bridge global digital divide to share quality practical information with developing countries as partners and companions. We gladly accept this proposal.” Professor Myeong Seung-hwan added to his speech.
Akira Nakamura, Professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, delivered a message via video. “The issues of E-governance are especially important for developing countries. In this area, Korea has been a global leader and is able to contribute to improving and developing e-governance in those economically and socially fragile countries.”
Professor, Myeong Seung-hwan, selected as a chairperson for the Global e-Governance Forum wrapped up with the conference by saying that, “This Global Forum will be a venue for sharing information among diverse groups including Korea, UN, industry, colleges, NGOs, and media. We will work hard to continue the efforts of bridging digital divide and building global trust.”
The following is series on the Korean e-Government system from June 2011
June, 2012 — Home tax System
July, 2012 — E-Procurement System that manages the whole process of bids & contracts electronically
August, 2012 — A collection of articles on e-government by IT Times.