Market Insight

UAE and South Korea announce agreement to develop bold new project: SmartCity Korea

October 07, 2016

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Global investment conglomerate Dubai Holding announced the sign of an agreement with the South Korean Government to develop SmartCity Korea. The newly announced project will cover an area of 51 million square feet and will be located between South Korea’s capital Seoul and Incheon, at a short distance from two international airports.

Our analysis

The agreement will help the UAE to reinforce its role in the smart cities sector. This project will leverage the assets of the two countries: the UAE’s experience in managing smart cities and South Korea’s technological prowess. This initiative will not only help developing a new smart city project in South Korea but will also play a role in strengthening the relationship between the two nations. The two countries have enjoyed strong economic and trade ties since 1975. In the last five years from 2010 to 2015, the total value of their trade reached AED122.7 billion ($33.4 billion).

Dubai Holding’s vision is to build a global network of sustainable knowledge-based business townships driving global and local economic opportunities and taking a leading role as incubators of science and technology.

Dubai Holding first innovative city dates back to 1999, when the company established Dubai Internet City creating an environment which provided living experiences supported by the latest technologies. SmartCity Korea will be the latest addition to Dubai Holding’s smart cities roster. Back in 2014 Dubai Holding launched SmartCity Malta in collaboration with the Maltese government and in February 2016 it launched the first phase of SmartCity Kochi in India.

The new project SmartCity Korea will build on four pillars: smart safety, smart energy, smart mobility, and smart economy. In their own words, the project will deploy an Internet of everything (IoE) infrastructure capable of integrating technology and services.

Regarding smart safety, some of the main planned initiatives include smart surveillance and intelligent security. For smart economy leading drivers will be free public Wi-Fi, cashless payments, and targeted advertising and interactive services. For smart energy, key initiatives will be smart lightning poles, network-enabled utility metering, smart irrigation capabilities, and storm water management. In the mobility sector, key projects will be smart roads, intelligent transport and traffic management, and autonomous cars. While at the moment there are no in depth details about the various initiatives it appears clear that SmartCity Korea will heavily use a mix of internet of things (IoT) technologies and data analytics in order to materialise its vision and potential.

Building a new project with little or no legacy infrastructure has certain advantages. Above all, there is no need to adapt or to work to upgrade existing, and sometimes outdated, networks. Instead, the city can be coherently planned counting on the latest innovations and technologies. However, deploying from scratch is a costly business and requires deep- pocketed investors.

With the smart cities market currently expanding and defining itself a solid successful story is necessary to drive the whole ecosystem. If bold projects, such as SmartCity Korea will prove successful they would spark other smart cities initiatives. 

South Korea
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