[Viewpoint] Gearing up for the ‘Smart Olympics’

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[Viewpoint] Gearing up for the ‘Smart Olympics’

The London Games wrapped up on Aug. 12 as a resounding success for both the host nation and Korea, which garnered 13 titles to match its Olympic record and rank fifth in the final gold-medal tally.

However, one of the main differences at the latest edition of the Games was the way it was blogged and tweeted by fans, not to mention watched by many on a new medium: smartphones.

Many enterprises, including beverages, fast food and credit card companies, sponsored the London Olympics, but the IT, communications and broadcasting companies were especially notable among the corporate sponsors.

Now that the broadcasting and communications media have become integrated, people around the world are enjoying the Olympic Games in various ways.

Paris 1924 was the first edition of the Games to be broadcast on radio, and Berlin 1936 was the first to be televised. In Tokyo in 1964, the events were broadcast internationally for the first time using communications satellites.

But Koreans had to settle for scanning the papers or tuning in to radio coverage until the 1970s, as the Olympics were not broadcast here on TV until the 1980s.

However, the smartphone era has completely changed the culture of how we participate in and enjoy the Olympics, making the events available to people on the move, while fans can celebrate together in cyberspace and share their impressions with one another on global social networking services. This inspired the rise of what we can conveniently refer to as the “Smart Olympics.”

And it looks like London is only the beginning. Six years from now, Korea is expected to ramp up its smart technology in a way that will make it enviable when it hosts the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

By that time, the current 4G service will have evolved into a 5G service. The network speed will increase to 10 gigabytes per second, and the wired and wireless infrastructure will see smartphones process data up to 100 times faster than now.

By deploying cutting-edge technology, Korea has the chance to usher in a smart revolution in a range of fields, from sports to public transportation, tourism and general living. Adding to the current infrastructure will be 3-D broadcasts, automatic translation and interpretation services, and volunteer robots.

As data volume soars to a record level in 2018, detailed match records for each athlete will be tracked on sensors installed at stadiums, and high-tech meteorological sensors will be installed all over Pyeongchang. People will also create multimedia postings on social networks in real time, and the Korean alpine city will set the stage for the evolution of the “Smart Olympics” by analyzing all the data and making predictions about sporting events.

The Pyeongchang Winter Games will be a perfect opportunity to create a model for a future-oriented smart community and propagate this initiative to the rest of the world.

We need to make sure we put on a world-class “smart” event to present an image of Korea as a world leader in this area. Just as Korea’s hosting of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 World Cup provided opportunities to make significant leaps forward on the world stage, the next administration needs to make showcasing smart technology at the 2018 Games a top priority.

However, a smart society is not something that can be built overnight, and time is not on our side. We need to make the best of the remaining years and months to make sure everything goes according to plan.

A core task of the next administration will be to gather resources to make the Games a future-oriented of festival of smart tech.

Politicians harboring presidential ambitions should present their visions for Pyeongchang. Korea’s economy and future may hinge on the success of this international sporting event.

Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.

*The author is the director of the National Information Society Agency.

by Kim Seang-tae

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