Case study: Seoul

The capital of South Korea is currently developing a sustainable social, financial and environmental system. According to the international IESE Cities in Motion Index list, Seoul was the seventh smartest city in the world in 2017.

Led by the Seoul Digital Foundation, the GDS strategy is applied in four areas of activity: the social city, the digital economy, social innovation through digital, and global digital leadership.

Social City

According to Seoul’s policy makers, a social city is a digital city that not only serves its residents, but also relies on cooperation and engagement, as well as educational programs.

Teaching, for example, emphasizes Design Thinking, the key components of which are creativity and a problem-solving approach. This approach takes place in five phases: defining the problem, researching, proposing solutions, manufacturing and testing prototypes, and finally implementing the solution.

Thanks to this method, young people can contribute to the quality of life in their city and therefore improve the quality of life for everyone.

The digital economy

The development of the digital economy also continues thanks to business incubators, convergence and the establishment of a digital platform.

To do this, Seoul can count on, among others, the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park (GDIP), which includes different poles:

  • New Beginnings, a research center specializing in big data, urban problem solving and big data research.
  • The Challenge, innovation center for start-ups in the IT sector, especially big data.
  • Gathering Space, space dedicated to congresses and hackathons.
  • Lot, event and co-op space dedicated to knowledge sharing.

Digital social innovation

Creating added value for citizens through digital technologies and data is one of the pillars of smart cities around the world. Seoul’s digital strategy builds on this pillar to develop new services.

From this process of digital social innovation was born the creation of night bus lines. Previously, in Seoul, public transportation did not run between 1 am and 5 am, and people had to use taxis. Therefore, the government decided to intervene. Initially, more than 3 billion calls to taxi companies were collected. This data was then used to determine travelers’ preferred places, destinations and times, based on which Seoul created an efficient network of nine night buses.

Global digital leadership

South Korea is one of the first countries in the world that decided to implement a real smart city policy on its territory. Starting from scratch, the government focused on smart technologies. In 2009, South Korea ranked the smart city industry, based on technologies, data and the Internet of Things, as one of seventeen industrial growth engines.