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“Planned-opolis” Cities Already Being Tested in South Korea

Daniel Taylor
Old-Thinker News
Jan 7, 2011

In 2008 Old-Thinker News reported on the deployment of Ubiquitous Computing technology  in South Korea as a testing ground for future development of cities world-wide.

South Korea was chosen for the test because, in the words of the city’s developers, “There is an historical expectation of less privacy.”Recent attention has been given to plans for “planned-opolis” cities – as presented by Embarq, Vodafone and others – that are rigidly controlled to “cut greenhouse gases,” and where travel is tightly restricted.  As reported in 2008,

“South Korea is at the forefront in implementing ubiquitous technology. An entire city, New Songdo, is being built in South Korea that fully utilizes the technology. Ubiquitous computing proponents in the United States admit that while a large portion of the technology is being developed in the U.S., it is being tested in South Korea where there are less traditional, ethical and social blockades to prevent its acceptance and use.”

As the New York Times reports,

“Imagine public recycling bins that use radio-frequency identification technology to credit recyclers every time they toss in a bottle; pressure-sensitive floors in the homes of older people that can detect the impact of a fall and immediately contact help; cellphones that store health records and can be used to pay for prescriptions.

These are among the services dreamed up by industrial-design students at California State University, Long Beach, for possible use in New Songdo City, a large “ubiquitous city” being built in South Korea.

Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea,” said Mr. Townsend [a research director at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California], who consulted on Seoul’s own U-city plan, known as Digital Media City. “There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards.”

The “U-City” model is the standard that will be followed in future development. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Bill Gates’ Microsoft Corporation is involved with the technological development of South Korea’s U-Cities. As reported, “Microsoft Corp. will play a key role in creating a ubiquitous computing environment for future citizens and businesses of Songdo International Business District (IBD).” Additionally, IBM’s “Smarter Planet” initiative is at the forefront of the push for a planned-opolis future.

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