On my trip to Asia I visited Seoul and Busan. Busan is the second-largest city in South Korea with a population of 3.6 million but even more important: It’s also the first IoT-based smart city in Korea with solutions for logistics, transportation, tourism and much more. How far ahead of Europe is Asia in the development of smart cities – or are they really ahead of us?
Busan relies on established solutions such as smart street lighting, which saves energy, and smart parking, which improves public and private parking lot utilization by providing real-time usage information. Deutsche Telekom already has plenty of experience implementing such solutions to help improve and simplify life in high-density urban areas. The solutions also help Busan with its dedication to increasing the safety of its millions of citizens. The smart crosswalk, for example, warns approaching cars whenever a pedestrian may soon cross the street. And the Smart Safety solution for vulnerable citizens can locate children or the elderly via Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks. It’s not just an idea – it’s already a reality for two Busan kindergardens. Further proof that Busan is taking its options seriously in even unexpected ways: Drones continuously circle above the city and can drop a life-vest for people struggling in the water.
The Benefit of Financial Support
Money is what really differentiates Asian from European smart cities. Busan established a smart city test site with strong backing from the federal government: The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning provided over $12 million in funding with SK Telecom as overall project coordinator. This smart city campus supports startups and the development of smart city solutions, fostering an ecosystem for this burgeoning industry and supporting Korea’s small- and medium-sized enterprises in this sector. Several engineers at the campus also pitch in with start-ups by supervising and co-developing pilot solutions from initial idea to final implementation. Backing from the local government is a big advantage and makes it easier to develop and launch smart city solutions.
Deutsche Telekom is well-positioned to further develop smart city solutions and concepts and become the industry leader. The collaboration with SK Telecom will allow the duo to combine their expertise and experience in the investigation of industry-leading smart city solutions. We are curious what the next years will bring and hope that the EU will continue to fund infrastructure-related smart city solutions.