Imagine being able to download services such as an e-learning course, health check-ups or a high-definition video conference session with your friends, family or business associates anywhere in the world from your smart phone or network-enabled TV at home.
Need to tweak your energy usage up or down? Check on your little one in kindergarten? Or ask your city council to help with some bulky refuse? Just a few taps on your smart phone or remote control gets the job done.
Just as we today download apps for our iPhone or Android devices, citizens in Busan Metropolitan City, at the heart Korea’s second largest mega city region, will soon be able to request for services or download applications for their everyday needs.
Busan may only have a population of around 3.7 million but it’s the world’s fifth largest port, and also a leading producer of semi-conductors, automobiles and iron and steel. The city is clearly aiming higher and working with private sector companies like Cisco to achieve its ambitions to be a smart city.
This bold vision took the first step towards reality with the opening of an innovation center, called the Busan Mobile Application Center (BMAC), which will provide developers with an environment to create and test these applications and services.
In one project, we are seeing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) on a city-wide scale by 2014. Building cities in the clouds? Not literally, but certainly building a smart+connected community on a cloud computing platform.
Busan is not the only Asian city that Cisco is working with to build these “City Clouds”. In China, Cisco is working with Chongqing, a city with 31.4 million people, and Chengdu, population 12 million, to build similar platforms.
These cities all have similar objectives: to improve city management, enhance the quality of lives of citizens and to generate economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner. Another commonality, all these projects are being built over high-speed city-wide networks.
Busan is also one of 15 u-Cities (ubiquitous cities) being built in Korea, cities that feature ubiquitous Internet connectivity, wired or wireless, and where all information systems are linked, seamlessly. Incheon, another u-City in Korea, is also working with Cisco to build smart-connected communities, notably in the Greenfield city of Songdo. Korea’s u-Cities are also an important part of the country’s national green growth agenda.
As with all city-wide projects, we should not expect immediate results. However, through committed public-private partnerships and a clear roadmap, Asia’s mega-cities are taking the initiative towards a greener planet, one step at a time, one cloud at a time.
Pie in the sky? More like Cities in the Clouds.