How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

Artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data and automation are the trends of the era which cannot be stopped and will further affect our lives. Now, it seems like digital technology defines our future. We should be the ones driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industrial 4.0). The cooperation and sharing centered on the people should be the core of the Industrial 4.0.

In order for Seoul be in the forefront of the Industry 4.0, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the digital master plan called “Global Digital Seoul 2020” in February, and plans to spend US$ 460 million dollars in digital projects over the next 5 years. The most important thing that we consider when it comes to implementing the master plan is our citizens. We focus on making Seoul a safer and more pleasant place to live through new connections and experiences.

The new connections that we are trying to provide to our citizens only matter when they help make the lives of our citizens better. Therefore, Seoul established the IoT Incubation Center to resolve urban problems, the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park, a 24/7 open place to support creative minds for their communication and development and the Fintech Dual Cluster, a base to support the Fintech industry.

We also plan to train 100,000 citizens – 1% of Seoul citizens – as safe watchmen, and install a traffic signal control system to improve the dispatch route of fire trucks, achieving a 97% arrival rate at rescue scenes within 5 minutes.

For digital welfare, information must be accessible to all citizens. Seoul is making the access to information is citizens’ right by providing free WiFi throughout the city. Citizens and tourists can use free WiFi everywhere in public places.

In particular, we plan to create the Digital Mayor’s office to publish data on departments’ progress, to help our citizens understand the work of the Seoul Metropolitan Government better. We expect to get better and more accurate feedback from our citizens and increase its transparency and accountability through the Digital Mayor’s Office.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?

Seoul has the world’s best ICT infrastructure and professional manpower. In 2016, Seoul is pursuing many crucial digital projects in various fields. One of the most important projects is providing free WiFi in public places throughout Seoul to make access to information as citizens’ right. We aim to set up 10,000 APs (Wireless Access Point) in major public places such as streets, tourist attractions, markets and parks by 2017.

We will provide free WiFi in 7,500 city buses and on subway line #8 in 2017 and then expand the free WiFi service to the entire subway from line #1 to #9 by 2018.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?

I would like to use high tech in the field of welfare to provide customised welfare services to our citizens. Currently, about 10 million citizens are living in Seoul, and effective and evidence-based policies are required in various fields such as transportation, housing, economy, culture, tourism, safety, and welfare. The most important factor to consider when setting policies are the citizens, because the ultimate goal of policy-making is to achieve “citizens’ happiness”. With the limited budget and resources, it is hard for us to satisfy our citizens while providing the same services for all. Every citizen has different priorities and needs and therefore, it is important to provide customised and preemptive welfare services to each individual, especially to the underprivileged citizens by utilising advanced technology.

Seoul plans to establish the “Integrated Life & Welfare Information System (BigCare)”, which integrates and manages the welfare information separately provided by public and private institutions by 2017. By integrating the welfare information scattered across each organisation into one system, Seoul will provide one-stop welfare services tailored for each citizen.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?

There has been a great deal of attention on big data over the past few years. Seoul has been addressing urban problems by applying digital technologies such as big data to the administration. For example, Seoul has worked together with a Korean private telecommunication company to analyse over 30 billion phones calls to match callers’ dial-in locations with their billing addresses. Based on the analysis, Seoul could find out where citizens travel patterns late at night and set optimal bus routes that would meet the needs of the citizens.

In addition, Seoul has analysed big data to find out proper locations of publicity materials, consumption patterns of foreign tourists, traffic accident prone areas and effects of regional festivals on the economy.

Seoul has created the homepage called, the Business Analysis in My Neighborhood (golmok.seoul.go.kr) which provides analysis reports of the business situations in each district including the information about sales revenue per month, types of business, floating population and survival rate of business based on big data.

In July 2016, Seoul also opened Big Data Campus where CSOs and experts can integrate and analyze the big data owned by the public and private sector and civil society to resolve various urban problems. Seoul ultimately aims to establish a data-driven social innovation ecosystem by leveraging the collective intelligence of its citizens.

Who is your hero and why?

There have a few role models that I admire and I want to be like including my parents and my bosses. As I have studied engineering and IT and worked as a public servant for 26 years, I sometimes feel that I lack humanistic thinking, creativity and imagination. For that reason, I get a lot of inspiration from J. K. Rowling, the writer of Harry Potter, and I deeply admire her.

Although I haven’t read all of her books, I saw most of the movies based on her original work. The recently released movie based on her novel, “Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them” also showed a story that surpassed all that I had imagined. Personally, I thought it would bring back the J.K. Rowling Syndrome. I feel awe at writers who show fantasy, adventure and creativity in a way that is unpredictable through a mesmerising story.

If you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?

If you have an opportunity to visit Korea, I would like to recommend visiting the beauty Jeju Island which is also my hometown, located at the southernmost tip of Korea. Jeju has great local food such as black pork, sashimi, seafood pot, and tangerine pancake. You can get to see these foods anywhere in Jeju Island, so you don’t have to worry about where to find them in Jeju.