Seoul, Songdo and Sejong may grab most of the smart city headlines about South Korea but Daejeon is proving itself to be a key contender too.
The South Korean city of Daejeon is trialling a drone service to make emergency response efforts more effective.
It currently takes emergency services an average of eight minutes to reach an incident. The city has defined a five-minute window as the ‘golden time’ in which emergency teams should be on the scene to have the best chance of a positive outcome.
Daejeon, which is the fifth-largest metropolis in South Korea with a population of over 1.5 million, is piloting a system whereby a drone can reach any location in the city within two minutes. The drone captures real-time video footage and sends it back to the Smart City Integration Centre so that emergency services can be better prepared when they arrive and hit the ground running with treatment or other action.
The system is being trialled and, pending results, is scheduled to be rolled out more widely next year, with a drone placed on every one of the 26 ’119’ emergency centre rooftops in Daejeon.
While operating these services, the drones will also collect data about air quality, parking availability, potential fire hazards and more. A weather information system detects whether it’s safe for the drones to fly.
“We are collecting data into a data hub to analyse it. Based on this data, we diagnose urban problems and try to solve them,” said Dong-Gyu Choi, Smart City Integration Centre manager, Daejeon. He spoke to SmartCitiesWorld during the recent Global Innovation Forum, held by the World Technopolis Association in Daejeon, where the collaborative group is based.
While operating these services, the drones will also collect data about air quality, parking availability, potential fire hazards and more.
Choi describes the Smart City Integration Centre as “the smart city control tower” which monitors Daejeon’s city services. He believes Daejeon is leading among Korean cities in its integrated smart city approach. The hub brings together the CCTV control centre, traffic information centre, local information centre and cybersecurity centre.
The drone service is within Korean aviation regulations as well as the city’s own drone safety rules, Choi notes. Special measures apply when public institutions fly drones in urgent situations such as search and rescue, patient evacuation and fire response.
The idea for the drone service came about through Daejeon’s Living Lab initiative, where citizens identify and work together to solve the city’s challenges. Residents said that faster emergency services were one of their key priorities, alongside finding parking spaces more easily, preventing fires and improving air quality.
After the technical pilot, city leaders will outline the initiative in more detail to Daejeon citizens and take on board their feedback about the use of drones. The Citizen Mayors programme provides a platform for people to debate, share ideas and help shape policy. Choi believes this more citizen-centric methodology moves things on from Korea’s original ubiquitous city – ‘U-City’ – top-down, technology-focused approach.
The Citizen Mayors programme provides a platform for people to debate, share ideas and help shape policy.
The drone pilot follows on from Daejeon’s ‘Smart City Five Connected Services’ initiative, which Choi says is one of the projects he is most proud of.
When an accident is reported, CCTV footage in the vicinity is located so that the situation can be monitored live and resolved faster. Through real-time data, the Smart City Integration Centre allows fire rescue and ambulance services, the police and city officials to work together more easily to tackle incidents.
This Smart City Five Connected Services initiative was launched in 2016 in Daejeon and is now being rolled out to over 50 local governments across Korea.
The city is also using data from the service to better understand when and where crimes and other emergency incidents happen, and therefore predict and take preventative actions, including assessing road safety and deploying more police officers.
“[Emergency] services are about people. If we match the distribution of population in the city and understand what type of people are where, and when and behaviour patterns, we can predict the future,” said Young Tae Cho, Head of the Smart Urban Research Center, Land & Housing Institute, a research organisation attached to the Korea Land & Housing Corporation, the largest public land developer and housing provider in Korea. The Institute works closely with cities such as Daejeon on smart initiatives.
“This is what smart cities were originally intended for – providing city services based on data and being able to prevent,” said Cho.
The Smart City Five Connected Services initiative includes special support for children and parents. Some parents provide their children with a smartwatch equipped with an emergency button they can press if they need help. This sends an alert to the parents so they can check in with their child. If the situation is a genuine emergency, the parents can confirm via the 112 police app, which also sends a report to the Smart City Integration Centre. The centre receives the child’s location information and sends CCTV footage from the vicinity to the police.
“The private and public sectors are connected in this service,” said Choi, including telecommunications providers.
A new drone Guinness World Record was set in Daejeon by Metavista Inc. for the longest duration remote-controlled multi-copter flight.
Speaking at the GIF, Soo Mann Choi, Director of Daejeon Technopark, said he believed programmes such as these make Daejeon a contender for the title of Korea’s smartest city, alongside it being a hub for high-tech companies and scientific research organisations.
As an example of the city being an innovation centre, Soo-man Choi noted that in April this year, a new drone Guinness World Record was set in Daejeon by Metavista Inc. for the longest duration remote-controlled multi-copter flight to date (12 hours, 7 minutes, 5 seconds).
You might also like: