Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Songdo, DMC: sequence is of the essence (Part I)

A couple of weeks ago, I came back to Songdo, a first since last December's Global Climate Fund announcement. The sunny yet chicagoesquely windy weather made the views from 60+ floor penthouses and the walks between steel and glass giants even more impressive, and after that, I felt ready for another round of the old Songdo - DMC update (see at the end of this article the links to previous posts about Songdo, the DMC, urbanism and new towns).

As it turns out, this eminent Songdologist - DMCoholic started a novel, and after a couple of tens of thousands of words, decided to deliver it in slices. Or in lots, like the said projects. Let's hope this one will take less time to complete.

Here's the "master" plan:
0) City, Interrupted. Puzzle, Ongoing. Landmarks and Landscars
1) Purpose and Identity, Citizens and Citizones, Projects and Projections
2) Connectivity, Continuity and Consistence
3) Longing and Belonging - Sequence is of the Essence
Today, lots 0 and 1 are up for grabs. Feel free to add your own critics. Again, Songdo and the DMC cannot be compared (e.g. scale, timelines, stakes, relative importance for local authorities...), and they don't compete directly. This is not a comparison but a parallel update, with random thoughts about the evolution of ambitious urban projects.

Stephane

UPDATE: Part II (Connectivity, Continuity and Consistence)
UPDATE: Part III (Longing and Belonging - Sequence is of the Essence)
UPDATE: download the whole focus in PDF format here.

*

0) City, Interrupted. Puzzle, Ongoing. Landmarks and Landscars.

Before starting, a minute of silence for Dream Hub, the consortium that was supposed to deliver Yongsan IBD, a KRW 31 tn monster conceived at the peak of the bubble, plagued with a fatal accident, and unplugged by minority shareholders who abandoned the ship before it was even built. If lead investor KORAIL must foot a bill that may derail its own development, Samsung remains relatively unharmed in the race for potential Plan Bs. Future projects will probably not be carried 100% through private financing... unless, of course, Qatar decides to purchase Yongsan Saint Germain Football Club.



Yongsan IBD -Archipelago 21 - Daniel Libeskind
"Archipelago 21" (above), Daniel Libeskind's take at Yongsan IBD for Dream Hub (note the Triple One tower at the center, and to the right MVRDV's highly controversial "Cloud" (below), a sick tribute to 9/11 and the WTC's Twin Towers.


If the DMC and Songdo were conceived earlier than Yongsan IBD, both were also hit by the collapse of the bubble. Timelines were adapted, delaying the completion of these complex jigsaw puzzles.

At least it helped tune down Korea's insane race for the skies: with Yongsan IBD went the not ironically dubbed Dream Tower (620 m, 111 floor). The DMC's Seoul Lite (640 m, 133 floors) had already been canceled last year, and Songdo's Incheon Tower shrunk by 114 m and 39 floors (initially 601 m and 151 floors, now 487 and 102). Note that Lotte World Tower (555 m, 123 floors) goes on, in spite of cracks noticed on core mega-columns earlier this year...

Betting on one iconic tower amounts to totemizing an absence of imagination, and far from negating its urban and natural environments, the ideal "Landmark" should reconcile and sublimate them. Seoul can be proud to have recovered its most original and defining landmark, the Sejongno-Gwanhwamun-Gyeongbokgung-Bugaksan-Bukhansan perspective: a wide pedestrian way, an open gate, a low rise historic palace, a glorious mountain range.

If I define cities as the scars humans leave on the surface of earth to prove that they once roamed it, some scars are certainly more gracious than others*...



*

1) Purpose and Identity, Citizens and Citizones, Projects and Projections


Songdo and Digital Media City are by no means classic "new towns": they share a business focus, and international ambitions. Here, permanent residents are not the main "endusers":
  • Songdo International City - Songdo International Business District belongs to the newly formed Sondgo-dong (mostly claimed over the sea, partly over Dongchun-dong), in Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, but also to IFEZ (Incheon Free Economic Zone). As the names suggest, Songdo is business and internationally-minded, and rules differ from the rest of the city. The epitome of aerotropolis, Songdo must confirm Incheon as a world class hub. For its promoters Gale International and Posco, as well as for such partners as Cisco, the project must also become a proof of concept, and help them clinch similar deals with other cities in the region, particularly in China. By 2017, Songdo is supposed to host 70,000 permanent residents and 300,000 commuters or business travelers.
  • The Digital Media City is a digital media and entertainment cluster in Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, managed by SBA (Seoul Business Agency). The business focus and international ambitions are also evident, but the DMC, as a city sub-center and "a gateway to the northwestern region of Seoul", must first contribute to the geographic and economic balance of the capital. The proof of concept would be not only a world class media and entertainment cluster, but also a sound ecosystem where major media and entertainment companies would "coopete" with thriving SMEs and start-ups. By 2015, the DMC is supposed to host 30,000 permanent residents and to provide 68,000 jobs.
For the promoters, the first "customers" are not the endusers, but the tenant companies who will fill the lots / pieces of the puzzle they operate directly, and investors that will purchase whole blocks according to the master plan. Only part of these "citizones" are meant for actual citizens: residential block whose operators contribute to the overall promotion as they market their apartments. Cities play more or less their part, but basically the meta-promoters (Gale, Seoul/SBA) focus on business targets, with result-oriented sales pitches. Songdo appears to be at the same time more institutional and more extroverted in terms of communication and marketing:

  • If both logos echo smart-tech cities, Songdo opts for black and elegant/institutional/corporate codes, the DMC for white and more graphic/design/enduser codes:


  • Marketing and communication are paramount for Songdo, a privately financed project with a sense of emergency; considering the scale of the project and the stakes, investors must be constantly reassured and updated. PR is highly proactive, and in the extensive picture gallery easily accessible from the main menu, buildings are usually shown in context, preferably with elements of nature consistent with the message of sustainability. But the speech always remains resolutely "pro", fact-based, technology driven (i.e. LEED-ND / Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development), the "bucolic" storytelling being left to Incheon city or POSCO (see further below). A giant showcase for smart cities, sustainable development, and pervasive computing utopia/dystopia, Songdo generates a lot of literature and case studies... not to mention my recurrent babble.
  • Songdo.com homepage
    Songdo Central Park Canal

    From Songdo.com: a corporate look from the homepage on, and an iconography that puts each landmark into perspective (here, Songdo Central Park Canal)

    "It's Real, Global Songdo"
    On its own dedicated website songdothesharp.co.kr, POSCO communicates along similar lines ("It's Real, Global Songdo), but using warmer codes, consistent with the proximity of an established local brand.
  • The DMC doesn't need Songdo's institutional - corporate tone and look: investors know that Seoul city is in charge, and the DMC targets business tenants of all sizes in a rather "fun" sector. Its homepage is hosted by Seoul city's portal, and SBA operates a commercial site in a classic and sober BtoB blue. Significantly, Korean is the home language, and there is no URL in .com: the marketing and the international drive seems less intense than a few years ago, and now that the bulk of the land is covered, priorities seem set on business as usual (making sure all big names move in on schedule, prospecting new tenants already in Korea, maintaining the DMC Gallery showroom...). Most updates are about new batches of lots for sale, and they don't even appear in the English version of the site (not much updated since 2010, as we'll see below). There's a lot of storytelling about how the various zones function and interact, but unlike in Songdo, the iconography focuses on the micro (buildings) and macro (masterplan) levels, and except for a movie on bike touring in the DMC, we're not told many stories about what's happening now. And in such a competitive and depressed commercial real estate market**, the DMC could tell of stories to differenciate itself, but the communication doesn't leverage on the key environmental assets in the surrounding, or on the recurrent good news each time a new tenant signs or reaches a milestone in the construction (e.g. few press excerpts with visuals).
  • dmc.seoul.go.kr homepage
    The DMC's website is hosted by Seoul Metropolitan Government portal (dmc.seoul.go.kr)...
    dmcseoul.kr homepage
    ... and SBA operates a distinct BtoB site: dmcseoul.kr
    DMC Digital Pavillion
    Iconography focuses either on finished buildings or on master plan maps: we're not given the chance to see the city in real life
As a result, the Incheon-Songdo couple projects a much clearer picture than Seoul-DMC for the world to see:

  • In spite of its struggles, Songdo is starting to emerge as a stand-alone brand that feeds and is fed by the Incheon umbrella. An asset consistent with Incheon Bridge or Incheon Airport, and all three form a continuum that goes beyond the obvious geographic evidences. As expected, the Green Climate Fund signing put Songdo on the world map. At the national level, it also changed positively the image of a project that generated disappointment for many real estate speculators. Incheon city communicates efficiently about Songdo, even when it doesn't mention it:


The day after the GCF announcement, Incheon city celebrated on its website (incheon.go.kr)
The bridge, the airport, Incheon - Songdo skyline. Songdo's communication contributes to Incheon's sales pitch and vice-versa.

  • The DMC's notoriety is growing rapidly, and in a positive direction. But this has more to do with its internal dynamics and relative performances in a morose real estate market, than with intense "top-down" promotion. Of course, Seoul has many other ongoing projects that require considerable efforts, but the DMC brand is so under-marketed that the area is often referred to as "Sangam DMC" or "Sangam-dong DMC" instead of "Seoul DMC"... as if the notoriety shouldn't reach beyond the dong/neighborhood! Unlike his predecessor, Mayor PARK Won-soon is not a fan of big business and new towns in general***, but he does care for Seoul's competitivity, and he did promote the Seoul DMC during his recent visit to Seoul for the Beijing-Seoul Friendly Exchange Year. Now the English side of the DMC's website could be a bit updated: two years after his electoral defeat, OH Se-hoon is still the mayor welcoming foreign visitors and investors!
    2 years after his defeat, former Mayor OH Se-hoon is still welcoming foreign visitors to the DMC's website (the English version hasn't been updated in a while)

Anyway, cities always speak by themselves, and citizens and visitors will progressively become the main storytellers.


*

End of Part I
See Part II
 See Part III

*

See also posts related to Songdo and the DMC, in particular:
- "Songdo on the world map (Green Climate Fund)" (December 2012)
- "Wet eyes for wetlands and urban mirages" (January 2012)
- "DMC at full throttle - Songdo from Sim City to Sin City ?" (April 2011)
-"DMC aims at Tinseltown - welcome to Hallyuwood!" (February 2011)
- "Seoul Digital Media City Tour" (July 2010)
- ...
See also posts related to urbanism and new towns, including:
- "Sudogwon New Town Blues" (March 2013)
- "Magok District: SIM City as in "Seoul Intra Muros"? Alleyways as in "Seoul Inter Muros"?" (January 2013)
- "From urban mirages to urban decay" (November 2011)
- ...



Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* and once again, all urban wrinkles shouldn't be botoxed; Seoul needs its vital alleyways!
** see for instance "Office buildings vie for tenants" (Korea JoongAng Daily 20130418)
*** Mayor PARK renewed his critics in this recent interview: "Seoul mayor warns that city planning has lacked insight" (Korea JoongAng Daily 20130417

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dear Japan, Please Say No To Abeignomics

Dear Japan,

I wish you the best in your effort to regain positive dynamics, but I beg you, please don't let your government carry out its main agenda: the suicidal revival of your great country's darkest moments.

Don't get fooled by Abenomics: they're only Weapons of Mass Distraction. Your Prime Minister has been very clear about his priorities:

  • Shinzo Abe is an outspoken revisionist and negationist who pledged to rewrite Japan's peace constitution, and to obliterate all records of Imperial Japan's war crimes.
  • Shinzo Abe, who headed the Japaneses Society for History Textbook Reform, denies all universally recognized atrocities, from the Nankin massacre to sexual slavery (midly dubbed "comfort women"), and now even dares questioning the use of "invasion" to qualify that doomed regime's expansionism.
  • Shinzo Abe insists on visiting Yasukuni Shrine, a place Emperor Hirohito himself refused to visit ever since it was made public that the remains of war criminals had been moved there, the place where Japanese die-hard fascists chose to invite all European extreme-right leaders in an infamous field trip.
  • Shinzo Abe, who represents Japan and speaks in its name, refuses to consider war criminals as criminals, imperialists as imperialists, and Japan as a peaceful country. And if you think this man is not a fascist, what more do you need? The return of the "kill all, loot all, destroy all" policy? His portrait between that of Adolf and Benito?

PM Fumimaro Konoe between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. These images will only belong to the past once Japan sets the record clear about the Imperial regime that disgraced it decades ago.
PS: I didn't reach the Godwin point, Abe did. Imagine a German Chancelor saying what he said: they'd be impeached and face justice for such an ignominy.

The worst enemies are always the ones from within and right now, Shinzo Abe and the ultra-nationalist bureaucracy that corrupted Japan's entire political system are the worst enemies of Japan. They deliberately fuel mutual hatred across the region because they need other hatemongers to reach power to secure their own future. For the moment, they're not only alienating Korea, Japan, and America, but bringing friends of Japan closer together to denounce their imposture. You think they are irrelevant and that's true, but they are dangerous, and they want to reshape Japan into a nation where people like them are relevant. You think politics have nothing to do with you but it has to do with everything you do, and in order to survive as a democracy, you simply must reclaim it, and keep people like them away from politics.

If you love your country, act as true Japanese citizens, speak up, say no to Abeignomics, and reject as false the choice between revisionism and nationalism.


Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

See all posts related to Japan,and particularly:
- "We reject as false the choice between revisionism and nationalism - for a Global Truth and Reconciliation Network"
- "Japan politics? No to Comfort women, yes to Political whoring"
- "Ad Nauseam: about Dark Tourism, the Blind Spots of Memory, and Free Thrashing Agreements"
- "Tokyo Sakura With Patriot Missiles (A Still Life)"
- "One Thousand Wednesdays" (also on my blogules blog in English "1,000th week of shame for Japan" and in French "Japon: regarde-toi, le monde te regarde" "also on Rue89"A Séoul, les « femmes de réconfort » de l'armée japonaise réclament justice"
- "L'extreme-droite Japonaise invite Le Pen... et les projecteurs" (also on Rue89 "La visite de Le Pen au Japon, coup de com pour l'extrême droite nippone")
- "Revisionist schoolbooks : change has not come to Japan"
- "A Common History" (NB: a too brief glimmer of hope)
- "Claiming Dokdo as Takeshima equals claiming Seoul as Gyeongseong"
- ...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bikesharing Blossom

Korea.net published an interesting focus on bikesharing services in Korea ("Bikesharing spreads in Korea" - also in French "Le partage de vélos prend de l'ampleur en Corée"), for which I was interviewed as a Parisian (2007) and Seoulite (2008) early adopter, but also as a cycling blogger*.

I'm glad to learn that services have multiplied across the nation as well as across the capital. Of course, I never expected Seoul to be covered as easily as Paris for obvious reasons: the landscape makes service continuity very hard at the geographic level, the weather at the seasonal level, but I wish the different services operated at the district ("gu") level started converging. If not geographically, at least system-wise and marketing-wise, to facilitate their diffusion.

If bikesharing services can seldom become moneymakers, they're a good investment for local authorities... who should remember they don't have to invest all by themselves: JC Decaux operates Velib' in Paris as part of a larger deal that covers public advertising space, and Paris city manages to makes money even if Velib' would cost it 60 to 85 million euros every year without advertising.

And again, one of the virtues of bikesharing systems is the trigger effect: many Parisians bought a bike after testing Velib, and that's what I did in Seoul. If many neighborhoods were bike-friendly long before 2008, Gwanghwamun area really became fully enjoyable on two wheels following the inauguration of the square.


Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* see all posts related to bicycle, in particular "Public bike rental services bloom in Seoul and around"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Time travel: "Letters from Joseon"

Robert Neff is sick.

Don't get me wrong: he truly seems a good and decent man. I simply mean that he was feverish today. But this historian is so enthusiastic about his subject that he managed, in spite of that, to deliver a powerful and very entertaining lecture for the 10 Magazine Book Club. That's about his latest book: "Letters from Joseon - 19th Century Korea through the Eyes of an American Ambassador's Wife".



Robert Neff - Letters from Joseon
"Letters from Joseon" - Seoul Selection 2013
Robert Neff's previously wrote "Korea Through Western Eyes" and "Westerner's life in Joseon"

Robert Neff is sick.

Of reading about recurrent seasicknesses, rashes, or digestion troubles in John Mahelm Berry Sill's small family. Of decyphering this woman's scrawl. Of following John along pages and pages of dull descriptions of spiders and plants. But that's part of the job when you do your research on this kind of material: unfortunately, not all letters are written by Mark Twain or Jane Austen, and someone has to skim off the relevant bits, the hidden gems, and what is left unsaid to make it a pleasant journey for the readers. Mercifully, that's only part of the job, which certainly involves other painstaking processes, but also other rewarding moments. Also, that's a good alibi to look for and into more pictures of the past, and Robert Neff is a great collector of photos from late XIXth- early XXth Century Korea.

Robert Neff is sick.

Come to think of it, this man may have a twisted mind, after all: he does have a weakness for wicked characters. But no, that's totally normal. Put yourself into his shoes: you don't want to stay all the time with a tranquil constipated arachnophiliac stuck in his garden when there's a naughty gossiper, an incestuous felon, or a chain-beheader in the neighborhood! Not to mention "devils" at large (learn that Korean ponies are not as cute as they look). Beyond the story of an American Minister to Korea (1894-1897), there are tens of stories and portraits, hillarious anecdotes, new insights about Jeong-dong*, Seoul, Incheon-Chemulpo, Korea, King Gojong and Empress Myeongseong, the flight to the Russian Legation, and a dynasty on the verge of collapse.





Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* reminded me of the recent expo Jeongdong 1900 at the Seoul Museum of History (see "A thousand villages, a thousand memories - Seoul Photo Festival 2012").

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hoehyeon Apt, Chungjeong Apt, Dongdaemun Apt, Ogin Apt...

They are touchingly ugly, and sometimes dangerous, but we can't help loving them.

They? Seoul's venerable apartment blocks of the first generation, survivors from the sixties.

I just followed Robert Fouser's link to an article* on modern architectural heritage in Seoul, mentioning Dongdaemun Apt (Changsin-dong, Jongno-gu) and illustrated with a mugshot of my beloved "Hulk Building" (Chungjeong Apt, Chungjeongno, Seodaemun-gu). Immediately resurfaced vivid memories of the amazing Hoehyeon Apt (Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu) and of other more or less hidden gems.

Chungjeong Apt is certainly not hiding. You can't miss this cult green thing between Chungjeongno Station and K1 REIT Building, with its metal staircase hanging from its temple like a stray lock of dirty hair (what "Hulk" is hiding is the French Embassy, from which the tall trees emerge in the back):
 


Some of these old timers have been unplugged, most recently Ogin Apt (Ogin-dong, Jongno-gu), at the feet of Inwangsan. And I can't remember the name of that other block, next to the Hyatt, that was wiped out at about the same time as the former Japanese Governor General Building**, but I visited friends there at least once a week, and there were still the small signs preventing people from taking pictures from the windows (to spy Yongsan Garrison?)...

My all time fave remains Hoehyeon Apt, on the other side of Namsan. I even wrote a fiction about it. That place is simply bewitching, and if I were a photographer or a filmmaker I'd probably spend years haunting it. Before being eaten alive by it.

Straight from a cartoon by Miyazaki Hayao on antidepressants (or straight from a M.C. Escher nightmare), the derelict structure somehow manage to hang from Namsan, anchored by scrawny staircases themselves on the verge of collapse. At its inception a model for Korean collective housing, Hoehyeon Apt is an insult to today's standard of living, and was even declared hazardous a couple of years ago.

Hoehyeon Apartment at its brightest
 
Hoehyeon Apartment - Namsan side
 
Hopefully, the 'vintage' spirit that has been on Seoul air for a a decade has helped Seoulites reconsider these time capsules, a spectacular and shameful part of their heritage.

Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* "서울서 가장 오래된 충정 아파트, 근현대 문화유산 '보류'" (thanks for the link!)
** then the National Museum of Korea. I'm glad both structures are gone now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TEMASEK goes shopping

Two thirds of the board of Temasek Holdings are visiting Korea these days, but if it weren't for KIM Jong-un antics, the whole company would have come.

Temasek CEO HO Ching is determined to invest in the country. The wife of Singapore's PM LEE Hsien Loong has run this government's investment arm* for nine years, and boosted its portfolio to S$ 198 bn (US$ 160 bn) end of march 2012.

Why Korea? A mature market doesn't fit into this profitable powerhouse's top priorities (China, India, nations with a growing middle class), but Temasek is also looking for countries with a clear technological and marketing edge, and future leaders in sectors like biomed or IT.

Temasek needs new growth drivers, and usually invests big. But if they were looking for quick bucks, they could also tap into the booming markets of Latin America (1% of their Asia-centered portfolio**) or Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East (2%)


Temasek holdings TSR
Total Shareholder Return since inception (1974). Temasek took a hit in 2009, rebounded the following year, remained flat afterwards 

First, the holding doesn't seem comfortable far from its comfort zone, and doesn't recruit board members far from the local political sphere - strong ties to the Ministry of Finance.

Second, Singapore is competing with Korea in many fields, and the government may be seeing an opportunity in the the nation's unbalanced ecosystem to shop promising SMEs for its own IT and biomed clusters.

S'pore dispersal?

Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* not to be confused with GIC (Government of Singapore Investment Corporation)
** Temasek portfolio as of 2012/03/31: 30% in Singapore (controls many national champions, including Singapore Technologies Group, where HO Ching worked before joining Temasek), 42% in the rest of Asia, 14% in Australia and New Zealand, 11% in North America and Europe, 2% in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East, 1% in Latin America.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gentlemanslaughter

April 16, 2013, 5 PM: showdown time.

To my left (North?): KIM Jong-un, 9,495,000 active and reserve personel, over 5,500 tanks.



To my right (South?): PARK's army. That's PARK Jae-sang, a.k.a. PSY, also showing some legs, but on YouTube: 86.716 M views, 943,660 likes, 169,662 dislikes, and 438,265 comments for his latest video "Gentleman".




To referee the clash, John KERRY and XI Jinping, a.k.a. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy:

"KIM Jong-un? We take him very seriously!"


As we go to press (some lemon for the tea), PARK seems to be leading the bout: both he and KIM opted for the low road in distasteful and disappointing repeats, relying on deja vu marketing ops instead of proving to the world they were capable of doing things differently... but Weapons of Mass Destruction are a harder sell than Weapons of Mass Diversion:


PSY 0 - April 12
April 12, 11:02 AM - 91 watching PSY's concert countdown on Youtube. "Gentleman" sounds bad. Will dance save it? twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/322530181053030400


PSY 1 - April 13
April 13, 08:36 PM - Happening concert by PSY now live on YouTube. Lifted in the air, brass knuckles and all... twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/323036878662160385


PSY 2 - April 13
April 13, 08:49 PM - You found PSY's Gangnam Style video vulgar? Gentleman is plain gross. twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/323040210415919104


PSY 3 - April 14
April 14, 10:38 AM - 6,901,110 views so far for PSY's "Gentleman" video (gross figure, but that's a gross video): youtube.com/watch?v=ASO_zypdnsQ twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/323248924838219777


PSY 4 - April 14
April 14, 01:59 PM - The question is not "Will Gentleman reach Gangnam Style status?", but "Will "motherfather" reach "frigging" status?" twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/323299368524472322


PSY 5 - April 15
April 14, 5:24 PM - No military parade in Pyongyang today, but already 52.9 M YouTube views for Gentleman, PSY's Weapon of Mass Diversion. twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/323713334698463233


Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

Monday, April 15, 2013

Smart Cities - Seoul: a case study (ITU)

Seoul website posted today* about a UN report on Smart City Seoul, actually a case study published last February by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the UN agency in charge of ICT standardization, and co-written by Jong-Sung Hwang (Assistant Mayor for IT, Seoul Metropolitan Government) and Young Han Choe (ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau).




In the perspective of Seoul Smart City 2015, that's an interesting overview and update at all levels: policies, organizations, infrastructures, plaftorms, applications, user interfaces and usages... even private initiatives, like the virtual store that made a splash a couple of years ago (see "HomePlus virtual stores in Seoul subway : from your smartphone to Cannes festival screens"). Random examples:

u-Seoul network
u-Seoul Net - The backbone has been extended to 192 km to enable further integration and convergence across the capital. At the other end of the network, Seoul can leverage a world class broadband coverage (4G, wifi, FTTH, even in subways), but it keeps investing in free wifi hotspots (eg in public areas and parks), and even in device donations to democratize usages.


Smart Work Centers: 10 "u-Work Center" allow civil servants to work closer to home, reduce stress, and carbon footprints... without going all the way to working from home.


Seoul's yeyak reservation for public services
Yeyak, the one-stop, integrated reservation system for all public services: yeyak.seoul.go.kr/english/main.web. NB: databases not yet operational**. Seoulites already enjoy great services for free (eg 120 Dasan Center, Seoul Global Center, real time info on traffic and public transports...), and a new mobile app specially designed for foreigners will be launched next month. A leader in e-government, Seoul plans to disclose 100 databases to the public by the end of 2013 (150 by the end of next year).
Yes, there's the security issue any CCTV-laden smart city faces, but this "Big Brother" is rather here to help.

Overall, an interesting read, not too technical for an ITU paper (I remember eating a few of those back in the nineties, when I worked on 3G and beyond). Not all dimensions are covered, and I think it could have been interesting to add something about broadband penetration and usages in the capital. The number of LTE subscribers recently passed the 20 M mark in Korea, where the economy of the "last mile" is very competitive for operators compared to their European counterparts.

... reminds me I've got to finish my latest update on the "ubiquitous" but not yet "all over the place" cities of Songdo and the DMC.

Seoul Village 2013
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites

* "'스마트 도시 서울', UN이 특집 보고서로 다뤄"
** Seoul's new 3D spatial information system (3dgis.seoul.go.kr) also needs some debugging

books, movies, music