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The example of South Korea: the Smart Cities incubator

The development of smart cities has increasingly targeted more cities around the world. For some years now, several countries have been betting on applying this city model in their territories. In Spain, for example, we have Malaga, Madrid or Valencia.

But beyond our borders, we have to look at Korea, which has become the paradigm of smart cities and of the sustainability model applied to large cities. For almost two decades, Korean institutions have been investing heavily in applying technological innovation to cities. Between 2003 and 2014, the Asian country allocated 2 trillion won (1,482 million euros) of public money to the sector.

Since 2018, Korean government investment in the smart city sector has been strengthened. During that year, the actions that were carried out in this regard had a value of 6,500 million won (4.8 million euros) and in 2019 they experienced exponential growth to 175,000 million won (129.7 million euros ).

On the other hand, this year 2021, government investment in R&D has increased by 9.7% thanks, in part, to Green New Deal, a great agreement by which Korea commits to carry out a transition in renewable energies, green infrastructures and green industry, reinforcing the sustainability model that they want to develop and implement with smart cities.

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Public-private collaboration

All this public investment is strongly reinforced with the collaboration of a large group of companies from different sectors who also dedicate their resources, knowledge and services to the development of the so-called cities of the future.

As if it were a Smart Cities incubator, the Korean government and collaborating entities invest their resources in three models of smart city projects: pilot projects, R&D validation projects and urban regeneration projects.

Pilot projects are large-scale projects that consist of applying a model for smart cities to a real case. To carry them out, in 2018, two cities were selected, Sejong City and Busan, where these projects have been built from scratch on empty land of an area of ​​about three square kilometers.

In these two smart cities they are testing, for example, autonomous vehicles that move their users door to door, as well as solutions based on artificial intelligence and robotization, such as traffic management to prevent traffic jams or assistant robots from forming in public car parks.

For their part, R&D validation projects, on a smaller scale than pilot projects, are ‘living laboratories’ that seek to develop a data management model aimed at collecting, storing and sharing data through a platform integrated into the whole city. For the moment, Daegu and Siheung are the two cities in which this type of projects for the development of smart cities is being carried out, which focus on the environment, well-being and energy.

The third model, urban regeneration, is focused on solving specific situations in older urban areas, such as improving security in a certain area, reducing pollution or solving parking space problems, through the application of cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality or data connectivity.

The strong commitment to Smart cities has very positive consequences in other sectors ”, explains the Korean Ambassador to Spain, Bahk Sahnghoon. “The areas that can benefit the most are mobility, with autonomous vehicles, the commitment to hydrogen as a fuel and autonomous traffic management; and energy, by developing systems that seek the highest possible energy efficiency and the generation of clean energy. Health and education also benefit “.

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