Smart Cities are playground for startups

Jeju Forum 2019

The development in technology ushered in smart cities. Urbanization has led to the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) in cities’ planning system, improving living standards and creating space for citizens to participate in governance and in the economy. Among the front liners are startups. They have been major contributors to smart city innovation.

At a session on "Smart Cities and Startups – New Opportunities for Business Innovation” at the Jeju Forum on 30 May 2019, Mr. Marc Bovenschulte, Director of Institute for Innovation and Technology in Germany, highlighted how smart cities have become a playground for startups. Entrepreneurs implement new technologies, particularly in the areas of traffic control, energy efficiency, and security. Mr. Bovenschulte looked back to Berlin’s transformation after Germany´s reunification. Local entrepreneurs also became a fuel to ignite economic growth. He quoted the article “The 100 Million City: Is 21st Century Urbanization Out of Control?”: it projects that cities will swell at an astonishing pace. “In the next 50 years, only 14 out of 101 mega cities will be located in Europe or America, and the rest will be mainly in Asia and Africa,” shared Mr. Bovenschulte. “The changes in demography are related to innovation capability. Problems such as waste management and the lack of basic facilities will need smart solutions,” he added.

Mrs. Waltraut Ritter, founder of the Knowledge Dialogues in Hong Kong, reaffirmed how technology has transformed citizens into “citypreneurs”, empowering them to participate in local governance. She cited Seoul’s National Citizen Feedback Dashboard that “visualises citizens’ feedback and enables public officials to prioritize trending issues based on enhanced data analysis.”

The Sewoon Sanga Complex in Seoul is a prime example of the value of citizen engagement and urban regeneration. Mrs. Hwang Jie-Eun, Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Seoul, narrated how Sewoon Sanga was revitalized from a declining structure to becoming the center of urban industry in downtown Seoul. “Citizens and the local government are ‘digital twins’ in smart cities. Technology connects them, and they witness each other grow,” pointed out Mrs. Jie-Eun.

The session on Smart Cities and Startups was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). “While technology is crucial in building smart cities, it is merely a tool. Essential are smart citizens, who work together towards prosperity and growth,” said Dr. Christian Taaks, Head of FNF Korea.