After our first field trip to Seoul to learn about the water and waste management, this time, we- Hee-Soo Joo and Jamie (Jisoo) Lee- had the chance to visit Songdo to explore the global and ubiquitous city with our CityNet Secretariat colleagues- Pipin Kurniawaty (CityNet secondment staff from Sidoarjo, Indonesia), Marina Brenden, Sayel Cortes (CityNet Program Officers), Gloria Song, Felix Kalkowsky (CityNet interns). Songdo is the Incheon’s special district that has grown as an international business region and a highly advanced ubiquitous city. Among many remarkable landmarks in Songdo, we write about our visits to the G Tower, U-City Center, IFEZ promotion center, and the Compact Smart City Museum.
G-Tower, the Hub for International Organizations and Smart City Projects
The first place we visited was the G-Tower, that is located in the international business district. The G-Tower is known as a hub for international organizations such as GCF (Green Climate Fund), UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), UNISDR (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction), and more. Also, there is a library of international organizations, which is the United Nations Depository Library, on the 2nd floor of the building. During our visit, we had the opportunity to meet officials from UNISDR and GCF. It was a valuable time for us to learn about two international organizations and also to gain career advices from professionals. G-Tower not only serves as a hub for international organizations, but it also takes upon the role to promote IFEZ (Incheon Free Economic Zone) and Incheon’s Ubiquitous City program.
Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ), a Global Business Hub
Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Promotion Center is located on the 33rd floor G-Tower Observation Deck. It has a nice view of the city, so we could witness the development process of Songdo. The Free Economic Zone guarantees free economic activities within the area, where international businesses receive tax benefits, high-quality administration service, and comfortable living environment. IFEZ consists of Songdo, Cheongna, and Yeongjong that are targets to develop into unique and futuristic cities. In addition, the cities are growing with increased foreign investment. In fact, 75 multinational corporations from 15 countries have invested in IFEZ. As global cities, they also host cultural events and activities for citizens and foreigners. IFEZ Promotion Center gave us an opportunity to witness how Incheon City is developing into a ‘Green Smart City’ that satisfies international business needs while promoting a green and high-quality life.
U-City Center: future city, a beautiful city made from technology
We learned and observed the Ubiquitous City (U-City) project and U-City operation center at the IFEZ U-City Center. The U-City project focuses on utilizing advanced ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) to integrate ubiquitous environments in urban areas in order to increase the efficacy of the urban management. Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include ‘Smart city’, ‘digital city’, and ‘electronic city’. The goal of U-City is not only to preserve the natural environment but also to enhance the quality of residential life with advanced technology. There are various U-services and infrastructure provided by the public and private sectors. Especially, the Public U-Services of Incheon include U-traffic, U-crime control, U-facilities, U-disaster control, U-environment, and information provision to citizens. These services are based on ICT technologies and utilized in the U-City Operation Center that is a fundamental infrastructure bureau. In other words, U-city model is planning and managing the future city based on highly advanced ICT, which makes it possible to solve many urban problems quickly and efficiently.
Compact ∙ Smart City Museum: the Time Travel to the City of Incheon
We also had a chance to explore the historical development stages and future plan of Incheon City in the Compact∙Smart City Museum. Touring this museum felt like as if we were time travelling through Incheon’s history. We explored the development process of Songdo, Yeongjong, and Cheongna areas while touring the IFEZ Miniature Hall. Each of three areas has its own urban theme depending on its neighborhood; Songdo as an international city of cutting-edge technology, Yeongjong as the city of aviation and harbor, and Cheongna as the city of international finance and leisure. We learned about various urban development plans and projects that Incheon city has been working on, such as ‘2020 Incheon City Planning’, ‘Songdo Landmark City’, ‘Yeongjong Sky City’ and ‘Cheongna Robot Land’. We also had the opportunity to experience the U-city service such as U-Shop. With U-Shop application function embedded in the refrigerator, people can buy food and daily necessity at home by simply clicking the items and paying for them. In other words, Incheon city will provide more effective and convenient services with the highly advanced technology for citizens to enhance their life quality in the future.
Hee-Soo Joo, CityNet Intern
Hee-Soo, soon to be graduated from the Public Administration at Seoul National University, has experience as a researcher at the Smart Society Research Center focusing on sustainable urban development and smart city.
Jamie (Jisoo) Lee, CityNet Intern
Jamie is a recent graduate from University of Washington with Political Economy major interested in foreign aid, SDGs, and comparative politics.