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[Territorial Policy in Korea (16)] U-City: Future of urban planning, management

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Published : 2010-06-25 15:51
Updated : 2010-06-25 15:51

This is the 16th installment in a series of articles shedding light on Korea`s territorial policies - an integral part of the nation`s development strategy. Researchers from the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements, a state-run institute committed to studying means of enhancing the use of national territory, will deal with about two dozen themes related to formulating the territorial development strategy. - Ed. By Kim Jung-hoon Korea boasts one of the world`s most advanced information and communication technology infrastructures. It ranks second in the National Informatization Index (National Informatization Agency, 2008), second in the ICT Development Index (International Telecommunications Union, 2007), eighth in the number of internet users per 100 inhabitants (ITU, 2007) and first in the high-speed internet penetration rate at 95 percent (Korea Communication Commission, 2008). Its electronic government system is rated as the fifth-best among 191 countries (2008), the number of internet banking subscribers stood at 52.6 million (Bank of Korea, 2008) and its e-commerce market is estimated to be worth 630 trillion won ($545.4 billion) (National Statistical Office, 2008). In the face of diverse internal and external challenges, Korea needs to make the best use of its superb ICT infrastructure as a major engine to propel its future development. It is said that the competitiveness of cities represents competitiveness of states. If the 20th century was the era of states in which nation-states competed with each other, the 21st century will be the era of cities in which cities are the principal unit of global competition. More than half of people around the world are living in cities. Urban inhabitants account for 90 percent of the population of Korea. Policymakers now should prioritize enhancing cities` competitiveness, which requires an effective integration of urban planning and ICT infrastructure. We should more actively combine cutting-edge ICT into daily living spaces in urban planning and construction. language="JavaScript"src="/khjs/banner/article_340.js">As part of such efforts, an increasing number of local entities are embracing the "Ubiquitous City" (U-City) as a core concept in their new residential development plans and citywide informatization projects. U-City is aimed at boosting urban competitiveness with digital and high-tech systems, making city management more efficient and enabling citizens to access necessary information anywhere, anytime. Already, some ICT-based systems (for example, intelligent transportation systems and underground facilities management systems) have been installed separately to address environmental, transport and other urban problems. But such isolated operations make organizational and prompt responses to emergencies difficult as well as render urban management unsystematic and dispersed. U-City, based on integrated city operation centers, overcomes such problems through integrated services and higher management efficiency. U-City is the trend of the times and a potential new growth engine by which the nation will be able to dominate the burgeoning global market and revitalize regional economies. Now the question is how to proceed with it. This article looks into the current status of U-City and tries to indentify its vision, goals, strategies and other crucial factors that policymakers should take into account for the future of cities. Current status, prospects

One local government after another across the country is pouring out U-City construction plans. Begun by Hwaseong which completed the system in its Dongtan district in September 2008, 36 local governments (in 52 districts) - in existing cities including Seoul, Busan and Jeju and new cities such as Songdo in Incheon and Woonjeong in Paju - are currently pushing the projects, according to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs. <**3>

In the most advanced countries like the United States, Japan and in Europe, ubiquitous networking technology is emerging as a new paradigm for national informatization. Diverse efforts are being made to prepare for the advent of a ubiquitous network society including government investment, research and development and trial projects. Those countries are implementing high-tech urban development projects - including smart cities and intelligent cities - suitable for their infrastructure and environment. The prospects for Korea`s U-City industry look very bright. The country ranks fifth in the share of the global construction market and second in the ICT Development Index. Korea has a strong potential to lead the global market by taking advantage of its strength in both fields. It is time that the nation focused on enhancing its U-City capabilities including early localization of core technologies such as integrated platforms and mapping out comprehensive measures to support the industry. Strategies for future cities

To promote the industry at the national level, the Korean government has finalized the first Comprehensive U-City Plan (2009-2013) outlining the policy vision, basic direction, national steering systems and strategies and key tasks for each developmental phases. Three policy goals

1) Effectiveness of urban management: The plan aims to establish high-tech urban spaces and intelligent city management systems by integrating U-City technologies into urban infrastructure facilities. 2) Foster as new growth power industry: The U-City industry will be promoted as a new growth engine to enhance national competitiveness and create jobs. 3) Advanced urban services: The plan also looks to improve the quality of life through U-City-based urban services including finely customized services for residents. To achieve these goals, the government has established four implementation strategies -each with a detailed list of tasks. The strategies relate to preparation of institutions, development of core technology, support for industry growth and creation of sensible service. 1) Preparation of institutions: The government seeks to promptly consolidate a comprehensive institutional basis for the industry regarding planning, construction and management. This requires various guidelines for effective planning and management as well as effective measures to protect private information and prevent disasters, damages and infiltrations. For information connections and compatibility, which are key to U-City technologies, clear standards for information, core technologies and individual services should be set up. Another important task in this area is promoting the use of U-City information among private sectors, thus raising the information utilization rate. 2) Development of core technology: The government seeks to provide R&D supports early to localize and foster core source technologies. Strategic assistance will be directed to localization and export of core U-City solutions involving information collection, processing and utilization. The government is pouring 104.4 billion won into U-City R&D from 2007-12. New technologies will be swiftly put into test beds to examine their feasibility. The government will support tests of solutions, coordinate functions of related government ministries and branches, and promote common use of results from different ministries, thus maximizing the synergetic effect of innovation. 3) Support for industry growth: The government seeks to generate new jobs and boost national competitiveness by supporting and promoting the U-City industry. The government will support model cases of U-City construction and prepare a base to export U-City. The government`s important task is producing a professional workforce. It will nurture high-quality researchers and skilled workers in the sector and train local government officials with U-City capabilities. The nation will also play a leading role in expanding international networks such as "U-City World Forum" and offer overseas road shows and exhibitions. 4) Creation of sensible service: The government seeks to improve living conditions through practical services. It will develop new services and improve functions through R&D activities and public surveys. To find out diverse, creative services and disseminate them among local entities, the government will encourage active private-sector engagement in U-City planning and operations. Phased strategies

The nationwide U-City drive aims to overcome the limits of conventional urban planning and management as well as recreate cities as a qualitatively new space offering better living conditions. It is the principal direction in the evolution of cities and a fundamental solution to surmount spatial limitation and sharpen competitiveness. In its initial stage, the government and the pubic sector need to lead infrastructure construction while private companies largely engage in developing creative practical services. Government support should be directed toward the provision of individual U-City public services, arrangement of institutions and nurturing human resources. In the expansion stage, the government needs to push industrial sophistication strategies including export support to develop it into a new growth engine business. For the period of the first Comprehensive U-City Plan (2009-13), the government is expected to spend 490 billion won. While trying to secure the necessary budget, the government needs to actively induce private corporations` participation. The state`s role should be focused on core infrastructure, technology development, legal and administrative institutions, supportive measures and human capital, while private businesses concentrate on advancing customized services. For systemic and effective policy implementation, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs should be in charge of establishing overall plans and coordinating policies and other ministries are required to develop U-City services in their specific areas.

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