Seoul Goes from Most Wired City to Most Wireless City
Yesterday we wrote about all of the screens perched around Korean streets, subway stations and shops but we left out one type of screen that’s even more ubiquitous. The screens we carry with us. Back in October of last year the number of smartphone subscriptions in Korea reached 20 million and has probably risen to at least 25 million since then. That means that half of all Koreans are carrying screens in their pockets.
Picture Courtesy of KT
Capitalizing on this trend, the city of Seoul has announced its Smart Seoul 2015 plan to incorporate information technology services into city administration, public welfare, industry and living. In 2012 the city is focused on building the core infrastructure that a smart city needs.
The New York Times provides some context on what that means for the average person living in the city:
The city is already one gigantic hot spot. Nine in every 10 residents subscribe to a high-speed wireless Internet connection. By 2015, when 80 percent of the residents are expected to carry smartphones or tablet PCs, wireless connectivity will be almost as free as it is ubiquitous: the municipal authorities are installing free Wi-Fi wireless hot spots in all the city’s public spaces, including 360 parks, 3,200 intersections and 2,200 streets around shopping centers.
But when you think about it, this widespread free WiFi coverage is just as good for people who are visiting the Korean capital from other countries. Rather than having to pay for an international data plan, visitors can feel confident that they’ll be able to access the internet on their smartphones, tablets and notebooks from just about any place in the city.
That means that you can find the best restaurant in Myeong-dong while on the subway. You can look up the latest K-pop concert schedule while in a taxi. You can make plans for visiting a palace while sitting in a park. And those are just the most obvious benefits.
While crime isn’t a major concern in Seoul, the city plans to use the system to further improve public safety. Parents will be able to monitor their children’s whereabouts at any of the city’s 587 elementary schools and use their smartphones to alert authorities if something goes awry.