u-City is South Korea’s answer to urban community challenges leveraging ubiquitous computing technology to deliver state-of-the-art urban services. Korea’s experience designing and constructing u-City may be a useful benchmark for other countries. This chapter defines the concept of u-City and analyzes the needs that led Korea to embark on the u-City project ahead of others. It examines the opportunities and challenges that the nation faces in the transition stage. What has enabled Korea to pioneer the u- City concept is the development of IT infrastructure and the saturation of the IT market on the one hand, and the balanced national development strategy on the other hand. Success of u-City requires a national capability of designing forward-looking institutions to enable better cooperation among stakeholders, the establishment of a supportive legal framework and promotion of technology standardization.
Ubiquitous Computing And U-City
Understanding u-City requires an understanding of ubiquitous computing, which is the platform of u-City. As the term u-City itself is a compound word of ubiquitous computing and city, u-City requires the deployment of ubiquitous IT services in an urban framework first and foremost.
Mark Weiser (1993, p. 1), who coined the concept, defined ubiquitous computing as “the method of enhancing computer use by making many computers available throughout the physical environment, but making them effectively invisible to the user.” The basic idea behind ubiquitous computing was to make computers “autonomous agents that take on our goals” (Weiser, 1993). In other words, ubiquitous computing means embedding computing technologies in our physical surroundings so that virtual and physical objects may deliver services autonomously without human intervention.
Ubiquitous computing has properties totally different from those of conventional information technologies that we have used to date. Conventional IT, or “legacy IT” creates virtual space that exists only in a computer network and works independent of the real world (Weiser, 91; Schmidt, 2002). Of course, human command is needed to control the virtual space. However, ubiquitous computing infuses computers into the real world and renders the distinction between the real and the virtual world meaningless. As the virtual space communicates with the real world, human beings do not have to give any directions or orders. This is the distinction. Legacy IT essentially makes “digital space separated from the real world” whereas ubiquitous computing makes “digital space integrated with the real world.”
Key Terms in this Chapter
u-Health: It is one of ubiquitous computing services, which deliver intelligent and autonomous services based on context-awareness. With the development of sensor technology, u-health service is focusing on monitoring the conditions of client’s health in real time.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): RFID can identify objects automatically by attaching tags to objects and reading them remotely with RFID readers. This technology is being used for a very wide range of services, including passport and cashcard.
Wibro (Wireless Broadband): This technology enables Internet users to tap into high-speed wireless Internet service while moving fast at a speed of more than 60 km/h. The first commercial service was launched in Korea in 2006.
USN (Ubiquitous Sensor Network): It is a network that enables the collection of information from all types of sensors wirelessly. It installs various types of sensor nodes and monitors condition of target objects in real time.
DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting): DMB is a digital radio transmission system that delivers radio and TV content onto mobile devices like a cellular phone.
u-City: It is an urban development model in the future that will advance urban functions greatly by utilizing ubiquitous computer technologies extensively and embedding intelligence into the urban environment.
Ubiquitous Computing: This concept was introduced in the late 1980s and has been developed under various names such as pervasive computing and ambient intelligence. The basic idea is to make computers autonomous agents that take on our goals.