Smart so­lu­tions for tech-friendly Seoul

HT Estates - - HTESTATES -

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.

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