IPMA International Project Management Association
28 June 2018 / 12:05

International Smart City Symposium held in Korea

Triggered by the great success of IPMA´s 1. Smart Cities Symposium late March this year in Berlin, IPMA Korea organised a second symposium in Seoul. More than 250 participants attended the symposium, sponsored by the Korean Government, the Korean Agency of Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) and several providers of services and technologies. The presentations focused on three areas, the situation, developments and trends in regard to smart cities, technologies and services available for smart cities, and case studies from various countries and regions.


Dr. Dae Yeon Cho, Chief Director of the Korean Smart City National R&D Programme and Head of IPMA´s Special Interest Group for Smart Cities highlighted the development of smart city concepts from ancient times (using the example of Old Seoul), Economic Development Plans of Korea after the war, expansion of Seoul during the rapid growth in the 1980s, through concepts of “Ubiquitous Cities” in the 1990s to the actual Smart City Concepts from 2004 on. The concepts of “Ubiquitous Cities (U-Cities)” can be defined as cities where ubiquitous services are provided through city infrastructure using ubiquitous technologies, whereas the concept of a smart city can be defined as a city model where citizen´s life is enhanced and city management is systemized resulting in city value enhancement based on relevant new technology. The U-City concept was developed in a top-down approach and failed to involve citizens in developing the new services. High cost for operations and maintenance with a limited utilization of services by the citizens reduced the value-add. It was consensus during the Symposium that instead of pushing technologies, citizens should be at the heart of the development, participate from the beginning in the design of a smart city, it´s services and technologies used, ultimately improving the liveability of all people.


Providers of technologies and services illustrated the solutions available for smart cities through examples. Alibaba explained the “Alibaba Cloud ET City Brain”, making use of “Big data” in order to tackle challenges such as missing communication among different data sources, high data redundancy, low data utilization and the lack of traffic intelligence. All available sources of information are integrated through a data integration center, acting as the basis for data intelligence and open algorithm platforms, utilizing artificial intelligence tools, face and speech recognition etc. It is used in several cities in Asia for Traffic Control and Hit-and-run tracking. Participants from Europe expressed their concerns regarding data protection, however the situation in China is different to other countries.  Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson and Korean Telecom focused on solution for mobility in cities, for example optimizing operations of current infrastructure, reducing emissions, cost and travelling time. Other services include smart parking solutions, bike-sharing, mobility monitoring and management as well as integrated operations centers for smart city governments.


The case studies exposed the situation, potentials and solutions from countries such as Brazil, China, Germany, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the United Kingdom. All case were different. In Europe for example, the development of cities is rather complex because of existing infrastructure and is required to involve many stakeholders and their expectations during the development process, ranging from the citizens, the different government levels, the operators, service providers etc. In countries like Brazil the social and economic situation imposes special challenges to city governments. In China and Korea the focus is on the utilization of technologies. The development is very fast, but is often rather “green field” and thus easier than in Europe. An interesting insight was provided by the “Neom”, a green-field development programme in the North-West of Saudi-Arabia, covering an area of 26.500 KM2 and aiming at a $100 Billion projected Total GDP by 2030. The ambition is expressed as follows: “Leading business lights will bring their wildest imaginations to the table. Innovators, investors and the businesses they create will forge an unprecedented blueprint.” It will build a 100% on renewable energy and water, will be a place for electric and autonomous vehicles, drones and hyperloops, and attract modern manufacturers, services providers and citizens. In essence, each city imposes specific challenges to those planning, managing or sustaining cities all over the world. There is not “one” concept that covers all requirements, it´s rather a multi-faceted approach that is needed.


IPMA will continue exploring the situation, solutions and examples of smart cities. The next Smart City Symposium will be conducted in Rio de Janeiro on September 5 and 6. It will focus on social challenges and solutions for Smart Cities. Soon, the first IPMA Insight “Realizing Smart Cities through Professional Project, Program and Portfolio Management” will be published. The Special Interest Group (SIG) of IPMA will develop until 2019 a Practice Guide for cities, describing how to make use of professional project, programme and portfolio management for making the vision of Smart Cities real.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.