Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Ubiquitous Urban Infrastructure: Infrastructure Planning and Development in Korea

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Ubiquitous Urban Infrastructure: Infrastructure Planning and Development in Korea

Article excerpt


Socio-economic changes in the information era immensely impact on our societies, lifestyles, built and natural environments and urban amenities (Yigitcanlar et al. 2008a). Particularly globalisation and the rise of the knowledge economy along with increasing environmental concerns are leading urban policy makers to look for alternatives in urban infrastructure and service provision. Additionally, rapid technology development in the area of digital network and telecommunications has a significant effect on contemporary urban infrastructure planning. Ever since Mitchell (1999) envisaged the 'E-topia' at the end of the 20th Century, describing the kinds of changes he anticipates will take place in urban spaces as a consequence of the digital revolution, urban digital networks have been developed as one of the most important urban infrastructures. For instance, technological advances and the benefits resulting from the use of these technologies in urban planning resulted in the emergence of new forms of urban infrastructure such as driverless transport systems, smart cards and intelligent traffic control systems (Cohen & Nijkamp 2002). In the Republic of Korea and Japan, policy-makers and planners have developed and applied 'ubiquitous computing systems' in urban infrastructure planning and development. This new 'ubiquitous urban infrastructure' (U-infrastructure) provides everyone with an opportunity to access to urban services using any information technology devices, regardless of time and location (Lee 2005a).

U-infrastructure is a key component of 'ubiquitous' city development and has a significant effect on the emergence of a new paradigm for urban infrastructure planning and development that is ecologically sustainable and democratic in nature. Ubiquitous cities, or U-cities, are defined as places where public and private services can be delivered and received anywhere and anytime (Kim 2008). Formation of these high-tech cities has not yet been considered widely around the world by policy makers and urban planners (Yigitcanlar 2006), perhaps because the idea of ubiquitous computing was so far only limited to the design or improvement of smart buildings, as in the cases of Singapore and Hong Kong. As discussed in this paper, however, the process in Korea, and also Japan (Bessho et al. 2008), reveals that it is possible to develop cities of the future by developing U-infrastructures that are smart and eco-friendly.

The following sections of the paper discuss major issues of ubiquitous urban service provision, urban planning, urban land use, and infrastructure developments, particularly in Korean cities. Using Korean experience, the paper discusses a new form of urban infrastructure and system driven by the concept of U-infrastructure. The paper then concludes with recommendations for policymakers and urban and infrastructure planners of elsewhere who are interested in adopting U-infrastructure systems.


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) play an increasingly important role in the planning, management and use of urban physical infrastructure in the areas of transport systems, power supply, sewerage and waste treatment and water supply and management. The Republic of Korea, followed by Japan, is a world leader in the use of ICTs in urban infrastructure planning and management (Cohen-Blankshtain 2004). Over the last two decades, Korea has continuously developed local, regional and national strategies for knowledge-based and sustainable urban development by incorporating state of the art ICTs. The country's U-Korea and U-city agendas aim to increase the use of ICTs in the development and management of urban space for prosperous and sustainable development.

In the 21st Century, technological developments in the areas of remote sensing, geographic information systems and wireless communications have made huge strides as a result of tremendous changes in mobile networks - mobile phones, vehicle navigation, smart cards and personal tracking systems. …

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