Smart solutions for tech-friendly Seoul
Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, has been continuously ranked amongst the most IT-enabled and technology-friendly cities in the world. The ‘Smart Seoul’ initiative aims at bringing smart solutions to every facet of a citizen’s life in the city and in all major sectors in administration, including mobility, energy, public services, water and housing.
While the Seoul Metropolitan Government i s providing online connectivity to the entire city, it is also simultaneously empowering residents to be connected to technology. In 2012, Seoul began distributing second-hand smart devices to low-income families and others in need. Citizens are encouraged to donate their old devices when buying new ones, incentivised by tax deduction in the range of $50-100 per device donated.
Seoul has also been running education courses on smart consumer technologies since 2009, offering both cityrun lectures and city-funded classes through private education institutions. Aimed at immigrants, low-income individuals and elderly people using smart devices for the first time, these classes attracted over 47,000 people from 2009 to 2011.
The city has taken many initiatives to use technology to make life simpler and smarter for citizens on a daily basis.
Seoul’s network of underground shopping malls are located at public transport interchange stations. So, while returning from office, people can shop for home supplies, groceries and a whole range of other things while inside a metro-bus station, and take the next transport to reach home. A great example of transit-oriented development, these malls are bus stops, metro stations, shopping stores, restaurants – all at the same place.
Virtual stores are also becoming popular. They can be seen at bus stops or along the streets. Products are displayed on boards with a barcode on them. People can use smartphones to recognise the bar codes and shop on the go, while the products are delivered to their homes.
Embedding f i bre- optic cable along Seoul’s subway tunnels connect the city’s main public buildings, its affiliated offices and municipalities. Through this network, the city is working to provide citizens with free Wi-Fi and full access to public websites. It is divided into three communications subnetworks. The free Wi-Fi network is accessible in parks, squares and other public places. High speed internet through Wi-Fi on subways, trains and buses are also being provided.
Similar to Seoul and situated about 65 Kms away, Songdo, in South Korea, is a smart city being built from scratch. The city is built around the airport, to reduce travel time. it is 15 minutes from Seoul’s Incheon airport, closer than Seoul itself.