Asia has risen as one of major economic sectors of the world. With the growing economic power of China, especially, Northeast Asia takes an important role in the global economy. Korea is geographically surrounded by countries like China, Japan, and Russia. Being close to global economic leaders could be either an advantage or a disadvantage. Korea is looking to survive and compete in a fierce global market. Among all cities in Korea, Incheon is striving to become an engine of growth for the Korean economy through Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ). It has been six years since IFEZ has started and the second phase of development is planned for 2010 to 2014. The main goal of Incheon is to become a hub of Northeast Asia in business, IT, BT, trading, and education and more. To accomplish the goal, Incheon has set a slogan to build "Compact, Smart, and Green" City.
IFEZ's 3 main strategies - "Compact", "Smart", and "Green" City
"Compact City" means the autonomous city built in a highly concentrated area, but it is very efficient at the same time. The concept was applied to IFEZ's Songdo City. In a radius of 5 km, there are buildings for businesses, residence, education, hospitals, shopping, and tours. The 68-story NEATT (Northeast Asia Trade Center) will be completed this year and the 151-story Incheon Tower is expected to be finished by 2014. Near the offices buildings, there is Songdo Central Park where sea water is used to build lakes in the park. Many international schools such as North Carolina and New York State Universities are ready to be opened in 'Songdo Global Campus' Also, Seoul National University and Johns Hopkins University will manage the international hospital together. "Songdo is a self-sufficient city with highly concentrated development," said the Commissioner Lee Heon-seok. The successful cases of compact city like Crossing of Mountain view, U.S. and Roppongi Hills, Japan show the future of compact city. From urban planning to development, Songdo is on the track to become the best decentralized compact city.
"Smart City" is based on IT technology to raise the standard of living. From planning to development, the cutting-edge technology becomes the foundation of the city's infrastructure. According to the Commissioner, the city-wide network "will greatly improve the communication among people, businesses, and government." Incheon has recently introduced a city model so, that visitors can experience the future of Incheon. The advanced ubiquitous technology was applied to improve the communication through wired and wireless portals and various devices. Traffic, security, disaster prevention, and public information is linked to the city management system to achieve the true ubiquitous city.
Commissioner Lee explained, "We hope that when the project is completed, residents will experience many great benefits. Smart homes will get smarter, and all the information in the house can be monitored and controlled with a touch of finger tip on a mobile device." The traffic can be managed more efficiently which will encourage more businessmen or businesswomen to work at home communicating through video conference. Would it not be great to spend less time on the road"
All the technology is ready to be applied and implemented, and the future of smart city is just around the corner.
"Green City", the last strategy, IMFZ will have 32 percent of green space ratio including various parks and lakes, which is highest ratio among Korea's metropolitan new towns. 429,000 m² central park is located at the center of Songdo City. Especially, the city is planning to reduce 30 percent of carbon dioxide compared to other major cities, receiving renowned 'LEED-ND' eco-friendly development certification. The compact smart city concept greatly influences the green environment. Most buildings and facilities, which residents need, are located inside the city. Convenient and fast public transportation will be available, but the city will promote walking and bicycling for residents' health and environment. Pedestrians and bicycles have a priority over automobiles in the city planning. Eco-friendly green city development is a global trend, and IFMZ will lead the green movement with a brand new city from the ground up.
Incheon's globalization with international investments
Korea has assigned Incheon Free Economic Zone to bring global companies to Incheon by providing the environment for their business in Asia. Incheon has a world class airport, seaport, and infrastructure to support business operations. Thus, all major Asian cities are located within 3-hours. IFEZ consists of three cities, Songdo, Yongjong, and Cheongna city. Among those cities, Songdo City is designed for international businesses in a 5.7 km² area with over KRW10 billion investment. The first phase of the project was finished last year and the whole development will be completed in 2020. Major global companies have their eyes on Incheon. On December 18 of last year, "We signed a MOU with GE to establish a GE global U-health R&D center for the first time in Asia," said the commissioner. GE will invest US$41.3 million for the R&D center in next five years. The center is a part of GE's 'healthymagination' movement to improve technology and quality of life while cutting health care costs. Also, the world's biggest computer networking company, Cisco, has signed MOU to establish Global Center in Songdo city to build an intelligent city based on ubiquitous networking technology. Cisco will invest US$1.1 billion to build the Global Center and takes in charge of technology and solution to build the smart city. Cisco will use the Global Center to test their ubiquitous city development business and make it into a center of global ubiquitous city projects. It is significant for IMFZ have global companies like GE and Cisco. When more companies get involved in the IMFZ project, Incheon will truly become a hub of Northeast Asia.
Incheon - the place for holding international eventsG20 summit will be held in Korea on November of this year, and Incheon's Songdo city is considered as a prospective place for the summit. If IMFZ is chosen for G20 summit, it would be a good chance to promote the city globally. Incheon is also scheduled to have 2014 Asian Olympic Games. The city of Incheon still has a lot to prepare for the international events and building IFTZ cities. However, the partnership and collaboration between government and business corporations will brighten the future of 'Compact, Smart, and Green City'.