Seoul: on the top of Smart Cities

 

Smart cities are connected cities: their urban areas are planned to evolve with the information technologies, the ” Internet of Things” and environmental concerns.

 

PUBLIC POLICY

The Basic Strategic Plan for Informatization of Seoul Metropolitan City published online in 2015 highlights three perspectives for the city: technological, social and political. On the technological aspect, this strategy plans to develop the interaction between the city and the citizen’s devices, like mobile phones. It will require formations and communication about their uses. The government offers a mobile Seoul service, m.Seoul, which gives information to citizens about 62 public services. Other plans are currently being set up, like the Open Governance 2.0: a large data sharing program with collaboration between the administration and the private sector.

On the social aspect of this strategy, the government wants to improve its infrastructures and administrations with the “Internet of Things”. The purpose is not only to meet citizens’ expectations but also to anticipate future needs and possibilities. Information and Communication Technologies infrastructures management is also part of this goal.

The political aspect that this plan mentions is about making Seoul number one of the smart cities. Since 2010, South Korea has indeed kept the 1st place of the UN e-Government Survey. Three elements matter here: provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity. Seoul plays a great part in these rankings favoring South Korea; besides, the city is a member of the Smart Cities Association.

Some purposes have been brought out by the ITU-Technology Watch Report of February 2013:

Smart Devices for All”: the government helps citizens to gain knowledge with new technologies and their evolution for the city. A program of device donation salvages devices, restores and distributes them to “vulnerable populations”. A special tax deduction is made to encourage these donations.

u-Seoul Net” is an intern network in Seoul. This program includes several sub-networks: free Wi-Fi for the administration purposes, a network for exchanging video data collected by infrastructures and a u-service network gathering public websites.

u-Seoul safety service”: the geolocalization on mobile phones enables to localize precisely citizens. With this technology, the program can turn on street lamps when needed. Furthermore, the u-Seoul safety service contains a specific “u-Children Safety System”: children are registered and localized, with a mobile or a watch, all the time they are outside without an adult. For example, they have a “u-tag” which enables them to call the police or a fire station in case of emergency.

ENVIRONMENT

Seoul has reached the 1st place for the Earth Hour City Challenge launched by World Wide Fund (WWF) in 2015 among 166 other cities. The prize rewards the fight against climate change. The jury congratulated “its comprehensive approach to tackling climate change and its determination to ramp up its use of renewable energy”, and more specifically the “city’s approach to radically reducing emissions includes actions such as allocating a realistic budget for increasing the use of solar power by residents, reducing transport emissions through greener fuels, building more bus lanes and through car sharing programs”.

Since 2012, Seoul has developed sharing marketplaces, even if all citizens are not aware about it yet. The idea is to encourage citizens to collaborate and to share their services and goods. For example, the platform “SoCar” allows carsharing, “Joinus Korea” enables people to get answers to any questions in their own language, and “WooZoo” is a shared housing service. For its sharing economy, the Metropolis Awards mentioned the city in 2014.

Finally, on the ecological aspect, Seoul is on the top of the recycling cities too.

Seoul is a connected city and continues to develop its smart technologies. However, the evolutions can seem drastic on some points. For example, the u-Children safety program may not work in France: considering the current concerns about personal data, authorities and parents would not allow it. Another problem concerns the sharing marketplace: if it develops the sharing economy, some people reproach a lack of “human” sharing in Seoul.

 

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Claire Gimenes

Etudiante en Master 2 Gestion et Droit de l’Economie Numérique à l’Université de Strasbourg, je souhaite participer au développement du droit lié à l’émergence des nouvelles technologies.

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