“Seoul City is pushing for ‘Smart Seoul 2015’ for the qualitative happiness of its citizens from 2011 to 2015,” says Dr. Hwang Jong-sung, Assistant Mayor for Information Technology (CIO) of Seoul Metropolitan government. “Seoul’s budget for informatization in 2011 stood at 129,501 million won, accounting for 0.63% of Seoul’s total budget. The Seoul e-government consists of a front office, a back office and additional infrastructure. The e-Seoul Net is an exclusive high-speed information and telecommunication network which links the Main Building of Seoul City Hall, its branch offices, affiliated organizations and Gu (district) offices with an aim toward realizing an e-government. u-Seoul Net is a telecommunication network that offers audio-visual and Internet (data) services such as traffic and CCTV information. The core of Seoul’s informatization project in the future is to carry out the Smart Seoul 2015 project.
The Smart Seoul 2015 project is a pre-emptive and active informatization plan as 80% of Seoul citizens are expected to use smartphones or smart devices and 30% are expected to purchase smart TVs in 2015. “We are planning to make Seoul the “best smart technology city” in the world in 2015,” Dr. Hwang continues.
The Smart Seoul 2015 project will expand Seoul’s smart infrastructure, help more people enjoy advanced IT services, provide Seoul City services through smart devices, create jobs, enhance the level of information security and realizing the finest e-government in the world.
“So, we expect that advanced IT technologies will be applied to all sectors in citizens’ life and even senior citizens will make use of smart devices and applications after receiving education in 2015,” Dr. Hwang adds. The city is also planning to reduce its crime rate by expanding CCTV monitoring.
“We are also planning to promote a Seoul-friendly application business industry and establish an incubator center in the Sangam-dong IT complex,” Dr. Hwang reveals. The Seoul Metropolitan government is providing various information and online services through the Internet and smartphones and is steadily upgrading services by collecting opinions of citizens.
The e-government service of Seoul City is divided into three major parts – strong communication with citizens, convenient services for citizens and addressing negative impacts of informatization. A main communication channel between Seoul and citizens is the official web site of Seoul City. The web site offers comprehensive services for citizens including electronic civil petitions, news of the Seoul government and the participation of citizens.
The web site is also connected to web sites of the central government and relevant organizations. Of late, the site has been renewed for three kinds of visitors (general citizens, business people, and tourists). In addition to the regular web site of Seoul City, the city is offering mobile portal services in eight sectors.
Furthermore, advanced smartphone applications of Seoul City provides citizens with information on restaurants, TBS broadcasting, travel, location of public rest rooms and taxi-call service. Moreover, the city is distributing PCs for marginalized people who do not have PCs so that they can use information services at home. For visually challenged people and the disabled, the city distributes magnifying devices and Braille terminals.
Other activities include repairing PCs, implementing projects to prevent people from Internet addiction, Internet counseling and free ubiquitous study programs. The excellence of Seoul e-government was duly recognized in the evaluation of e-governments by reliable organizations. For example, Seoul e-government came in first for four years running in the evaluation of the Evaluation of the World’s 100 Cities.”
“The Seoul e-government became a benchmarking object for countries and cities around the world,” Dr. Hwang adds. “Foreign public officials, businessmen and scholars have visited Seoul City to observe its e-government system and facilities.”
“We are planning to publicize the excellence of Seoul's e-government system and contribute to the development of other e-governments by exchanging and cooperating with cities around the world,” Dr. Hwang explains. “At the same, the plan is aimed at addressing a digital divide problem among people and helping Korean ICT companies make a foray into overseas markets.”
Seoul becomes chair of World e-Government Organization (WeGo)
Accordingly, the Seoul government has laid the foundation by holding its World e-Government Market Forum in 2008. Finally in September 2010, the World e-Government Organization (WeGO) was established with Seoul as chair city. Since then, the Seoul government is playing the role of the leader for e-governments in the world.
The number of the member cities of the WeGO is 50, including big cities of the U.S., Canada, France and developing countries in Africa. The members cooperate with one another via the WeGO. Of late, the WeGO has surged in popularity internationally.
For example, three cities have recently applied for membership. The Seoul Metropolitan Government suggests distributing its e-government standard framework to member cities of the WeGO in a meeting of the Managing Committee of the WeGO held in Barcelona of Spain in last October. The suggestion was adopted.
The Seoul e-government has become an excellent e-government benchmarking target for countries around the world. Over the past three years, 893 people from 155 countries came to Seoul to observe and learn about the Seoul e-government. The Seoul government signed MOUs on exchange and cooperation on e-government with 11 overseas cities with the purpose of promoting friendship and enhancing the value of its global brand through communication marketing for the Seoul e-government and laying the foundation for Korean IT companies’ making a foray into overseas markets on the foundation of its world-class information infrastructure and experiences in various informatization projects.
“In particular, we carried out feasibility studies on e-government with leading Korean IT companies in Hanoi of Vietnam, Nairobi of Kenya and Katmandu of Nepal, which helped the cities map out informatization master plans,” Dr. Hwang adds.
“These efforts have paid off. The Tanzanian government is building its own system by applying the e-government model of Seoul to it. We have also contributed to the informatization of developing countries and helped Korean IT companies make inroads into overseas markets. This means Seoul’s position is rising as an advanced IT city.” “We will steadily publicize the excellence of the Seoul e-government internationally and contribute to the development of e-governments around the world through MOUs and to addressing the digital divide problem.
At the same time, we will help Korean companies tap into overseas markets,” Dr. Hwang detailed. Of late, the inauguration ceremony for the new Seoul mayor Park Won-soon attracted eyes of people and mass media as it was done online.
The online ceremony was broadcast live through the Internet from 11:00 to 11:40 am on November 16 of 2011. During the broadcast, Mayor Park opened his office room, pledge allegiance to the nation, delivered his inauguration speech and took questions from citizens through SNS. About 75,000 people watched the Internet broadcasting live and 5,000 questions or opinions were sent to the mayor through SMS.
In addition, about 8,000 people watched the ceremony on their mobile devices. “The online inauguration ceremony was successfully held with a smaller budget compared to previous authoritarian and formal ceremonies, suggesting a new model of inauguration ceremonies for government organizations, companies and groups,” Dr. Hwang says.