Following Cisco, Samsung aims to turn Daegu into South Korea’s first major smart city


Taking full advantage of its economic leadership, Samsung and local SK Telecom (SKT) announced that they want to turn the manufacturing city of Daegu into an IoT test hub complete with modern infrastructure for connected cars and mobile health.

Daegu is trying to pivot from its role as a manufacturing hub in the late 20th century. This initiative led by Korea’s largest technology company has the potential to complete that transition. Certain districts will be designated as “regulation-free zones.” The new communication infrastructure will incorporate cloud computing, and allow for heavier loads of data, smart energy systems for public utilities, and accommodation for electric cars and autonomous vehicles. Samsung is also making its IP available to local technology companies to experiment with.

“SKT’s plan to build an IoT test bed in Daegu is aimed at growing ventures and startups, and the company hopes that the project can jump-start the nation’s economy,” said SKT President Lee Hyung-hee, who manages their mobile networks. SKT plans to have expanded network coverage in the city by May. Hyung-hee added, “SKT will also try to create a new business ecosystem by supporting ventures seeking to infiltrate the global market.”

Daegu will see a new startup center called Open Lab, which will also be the center of the urban IoT network. Another incubator, the Center for Creative Economy and Innovation, was announced in November as one of 17 across the country that were being jointly supported by Samsung, SKT and Hyundai among some dozen other South Korean corporate sponsors. That center will reportedly open in November 2016 at the Daegu Samsung Creative Campus. Samsung already has a sizable presence in the city and is the primary sponsor to the local professional baseball team, the Daegu Lions.

The new startup center, Daegu Samsung Creative Economy, will open later this year (image, Samsung)
The new startup center, Daegu Samsung Creative Economy, will open later this year (image, Samsung)

SKT and Samsung jump on the smart city bandwagon

“Joining hands with the nation’s largest ICT firms, Daegu has now a chance to play a key role in developing the nation’s ICT industry,” said Daegu Mayor Kwon Young-jin, according to a translation by the Korea Herald. “The city will spare no efforts for the growth of the IoT test bed.”

That infrastructure will incorporate SKT’s proprietary IoT platform ThingPlug that facilitates IoT product development and manages IoT networks. The company says it relies on standards set by oneM2M, an international standard for IoT device communications. The city of Daegu itself says it aims to raise 1 trillion won (roughly $855 million) to support infrastructure installation and create a new fund for local startups.

Samsung and SKT are not the only international conglomerates partnering with local governments to build IoT infrastructure. Cisco recently announced a multimillion-euro project in Berlin, while Vodafone just announced it will invest some €243 million in smart city projects in Seville. Other cities experimenting with smart city infrastructure include London, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Jerusalem.

Samsung has a few initiatives that tie into the Daegu project. One of them is the Samsung Digital Health Initiative that supports the creation of a “new health open reference design platform, IoT-specific hardware ARTIK and the company’s branded Smart Lighting Platform.


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