Korean companies gather for U-City Project
Korean businesses and policymakers will combine efforts for a national urban development project focused on integrating advanced information and communication technology infrastructure to support the sustainable development of cities.
The road map project, tentatively dubbed the "U-City Project," is aimed at connecting info-tech and urban development groups to strengthen the role of communication technology in the planning and management of cities.
The objective is to create environments in cities where residents can enjoy access to high-speed networks and advanced information services regardless of location through a ubiquitous computing network. Government agencies such as the Ministry of Information and Communication and the Ministry of Construction and Transportation will join industry heavyweights including Samsung Electronics Co., KT Corp. and LG CNS Co., among others, for the project.
"The U-City Project will become the center of the government and private sectors' effort in sustaining growth for the country's economy," said Soonchunhyang University professor Lee Geun-ho, who is among the main architects of the project.
"The matured information and communication sector is already seeing the trend of jobless growth. If we could link information and communication technology with construction and urban development activities, we will be able to increase the overall level of investment while luring more foreign companies to come here."
Regional governments have recently been laying out comprehensive plans to integrate advanced info-tech infrastructure in urban areas. Seoul has been pushing its Digital Media City project since 1998, which aims to develop the city's western district of Sangam-dong as a research and development hub for the high-tech industry.
Providing a state-of-the-art network environment is also a part of Incheon's intentions for New Song-do City, the next-generation city project scheduled for completion in 2014, while Jeju Island also has similar plans to develop itself as the country's next high-tech boomtown.
Industry insiders believe the U-City Project could link the regional projects for balanced development and avoid overlapping investment, while solving the economical, technical and legislative barriers through interaction between the government and private sector.
The project is also seen as critical in providing the infrastructure and generating a larger service market for next-generation communication technologies, such as sensor-based computing, radio-frequency identification applications, the broadband convergence network and mobile Internet, among others.
Governments worldwide are increasingly adopting plans to combine their advancements in information-technology with urban development. The European Union has a road map called Intelcity, which aims to designate six European cities and integrate them with a ubiquitous network by the end of 2010.
Malaysia plans to invest $1.7 billion to build info-tech hub cities across the nation by 2020 through its Multimedia Super Corridor project.
The Ministry of Information and Communication is planning to invest about 60 billion won in the U-City Project next year in its initial stage and hopes to include it in the country's forthcoming "New Deal" initiative.
"The U-City Project will have a critical role in Korea achieving its goal as the new nexus for Northeast Asian trade," Lee said, adding that creating a global fund is among the key plans to finance the U-City project in the long-term.
"By leveraging Korea's advanced information and communication infrastructure and geographic advantages, we could offer a new, friendly business face to potential investors worldwide," he said.