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Mar 30 2016

Smart-from-the-start Cities Is The Way Forward

Building a smart city from scratch avoids the costly retrofitting of technology, including internet of things capability, and sparks innovation

South Korea’s $35-billion Songdo smart city, built on 1,500 acres of land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea, sits a mere 35 miles west of the capital Seoul. Songdo International Business District (IBD) borrows from iconic cities around the world with pocket parks based on the design of Savannah in Georgia and a 101-acre Central Park, modelled on the original in New York. About 70 per cent complete, with 36,000 residents living in Songdo IBD, the city is beginning to look like the high-tech urban Utopia it was intended to be. “When we started in Songdo back in 2010, much of the vision didn’t exist as a product. We had to build it from scratch – and we did – but it was pretty challenging,” says Bas Boorsma, director of internet of things, Cisco North Europe. Cisco was heavily involved in the creation of intelligent buildings in Songdo, with more than 3,000 Cisco TelePresence units already installed in the city and, according to Cisco, a further 17,000 will be fixed in homes by Songdo’s completion. These personal video devices can connect residents to doctors, tutors, schools and other innovative services. Tom Murcott, executive vice president, international, of Gale International, co-developer of Songdo IBD, believes that IoT solutions can have a fundamental impact on citizens’ living and working experience. “Songdo’s success as a smart city should be judged by how well those aspects deemed ‘smart’ contribute to the quality of life of its inhabitants. We want to provide residents of Songdo supportive technologies that will truly assist and improve their lives, not overwhelm them with gadgetry.”