IT sector accelerates U-City drive

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IT sector accelerates U-City drive


Businesses and policymakers are accelerating their drive for a national urban development project focused on strengthening the role of information and communication technology in civic planning and management.

The Ministry of Information and Communication said it expects to open the "Korea U-City Forum" next month, joined by high-tech heavyweights such as KT Corp., Samsung SDS Co. and government agencies including the Ministry of Construction and Transportation and the Korea Land Corp.

The forum will focus on delivering industry standards for next-generation city projects and designing a supporting administrative framework.

"We hope the forum can provide a floor for better communication and interaction between the government and companies. The idea is to take the separate U-City projects pushed by regional governments and private companies and fully integrate them with the national development policy," said Lee Geun-ho, a Soonchunhyang University professor and senior vice president of the Korea U-City Promotion Association.

KT Corp. President Lee Yong-kyung (right) shakes hands with Busan mayor Hur Nam-sik after signing a memorandum of understanding to lead the city`s "U-City" drive. [The Korea Herald]

Lee said the forum will release a detailed outline and budget during the second half of the year.

"The forum`s early efforts will be focused on developing technologies, industry standards and finding advanced applications at the service level. The goal is to find urban development models that fit accordingly with the existing environment that differ regionally, achieving balanced development and overlap of investment," he said.

The next-generation city project, dubbed by Korean officials as the "U-City project," is aimed at building industry-wide partnerships between the high-tech and construction sectors to integrate advanced info-tech infrastructure to support the sustainable development of cities.

The idea is to create environments in cities where residents can enjoy access to high-speed networks and enhanced information services at anytime regardless of location through a ubiquitous computing network.

The government hopes the U-City project will strengthen Korea`s status as an international technology powerhouse and establish itself as regional cluster and test bed for world-class companies here and abroad. The project is also seen as critical to providing the infrastructure and generating a larger service market for next-generation communication technologies, such as sensor-based computing, radio-frequency identification applications and mobile Internet.

According to KT Corp., the country`s largest fixed-line telephony and broadband Internet carrier, the market for U-City development projects will be worth between $15 billion to $22 billion by 2010. The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the city government of Busan last month to head its U-City project.

"U-City is a project of rebuilding an entire city under an advanced info-tech infrastructure. It is a massive project involving heavy investment and it would be hard to design a fixed road map for the projects since there are so many parties and different interests involved. Building an efficient connection between the central government, regional governments and the private sector is the key to success," said Park Jin-sik, who heads KT`s U-City division.

Regional governments have 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 an advanced networking 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 the island of Jeju has similar plans to develop itself as the country`s next high-tech boomtown.

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 will 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 hubs across the nation by 2020 through its Multimedia Super Corridor project.


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