Korea on the Threshold of a Ubiquitous Society
Korea on the Threshold of a Ubiquitous Society
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  • 승인 2006.02.01 12:01
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By Lee Sung-ok, assistant minister of information planning, MIC 'Ubiquitous Computing' is the concept of autonomous execution of services by the environment, rather than by an individual having to make a choice, through all sorts of hidden computers installed in every corner of our surroundings.
The concept has become very familiar to the general public, too, in recent years as the term 'ubiquitous' has made frequent appearances in advertisements promoting the sales of housings and daily products. Today, the international competition to enliven the 'ubiquitous' industry and take a lead in the world market has become extremely fierce. And, major countries are endeavoring to build industries of their own and ultimately bring about a society based on intelligence. The reason for this lies in the pervasive economic benefits and the opportunities to create new markets that will be generated in the process of moving toward the intelligence-based society. Naturally, such an environmental change in the IT field has been asking us to prepare a technological base that can materialize the ubiquitous society and set up national strategies to play a leading role in the world market. To better cope with this challenge, our nation, too, has been systematically preparing to construct a society that can put every resource available into a networked database and utilize it freely for our daily lives based on ubiquitous technologies. In order to facilitate the national development in the future and promote the ubiquitous industry as a new engine of growth, it is necessary to make the following three strategic choices. First, we need to secure original technologies necessary to build a ubiquitous environment. The continued R&D investment in the core technologies that we can be competitive at is a strategic choice since it allows us to make the best use of benefits that could be gained from focusing on key areas of our prudent choosing. The advent of a new ubiquitous environment is both a challenge and opportunity. When we recognize this and prepare with a long-term view, we can continuously maintain and strengthen the nation's stature as an IT powerhouse. Second, we need to set up a Korean model for development by capitalizing on the strengths of its infrastructure. Our nation has an advantageous environment for building a ubiquitous society since its infrastructure is of the highest quality in the world. As of November 2005, 12.14 million homes, or 77% of the total households, are connected to the broadband Internet while Korea is ranked the first in the Digital Opportunity Index surveyed by the World Summit on the Information Society. In addition, Korea already has the essentials for a ubiquitous society such as the high level of 'informatization,' the flexible use of IT products and the national cohesiveness in carrying out government policies. The setting up of a Korean model that reflects the infrastructure and the characteristics of information technologies under such recognition will act to our benefit in future competitions. Third, we need to have a trigger to reinforce the drive toward a ubiquitous society. Even though it is a certain trend of our times to move in the direction toward the ubiquitous world, we need to have catalysts to accelerate the process. To this end, the whole society needs to recognize the ubiquitous environment and exert efforts to educate the people and engage in publicity campaigns with an aim to increase the ability to accommodate ubiquitous services. Above all, we need to prepare and take the initiative to develop related industries by inciting the demand at an earlier stage through the intensive investment in ubiquitous computing technologies for their applications in the infrastructure that includes transportation, education and the environment. Along with this, we need to prepare for technological and institutional measures including educational programs to guard against social problems, such as the breach of privacy by leaking personal information, and formulate a sound cyberculture befitting an affluent ubiquitous society. As new cultures have emerged in the transitional period toward a digital era, it is necessary to be prepared for new cultures and modes of living for the ubiquitous era. By actively engaging in the effort to formulate a new environment of ubiquitous infrastructure, we can become pioneers of the ubiquitous society. As Korea has leaped forward and became an advanced country in terms of digitalization by embracing the high-speed network and the Internet at the right time, we need to utilize the advent of a ubiquitous environment as a new opportunity to leap forward.

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