KT wires an island to make it smart

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KT wires an island to make it smart


Left: Farmers on the island Imjado in Sinan County, South Jeolla, manage a greenhouse with a smart environmental control system using smart devices. Right: KT’s IT supporter and a nurse explain how the results of a medical checkup is sent to a smartphone at the Imja Healthcare Center in Imjado, Sinan County, South

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, sensors measuring the carbon dioxide, solar radiation and temperature and humidity inside and outside a greenhouse growing broccoli sent data to the greenhouse’s owner via his smartphone and personal computer.

The owner, Mrs. Na, was out of the town. But he wasn’t needed. The smart environmental control system at the greenhouse automatically sprayed water on the crops and opened and closed windows.

“I can watch the greenhouse from a smartphone through cameras installed inside and check the crops anytime and anywhere,” Na said. “It’s a real relief and I can get away from work anytime I wish.”

Mrs. Na only visits the greenhouse a tenth of the number of times she used to ? all thanks to the smart farming system.

So it goes on a Korean island where the Internet of Things is not in the future but a daily reality.

Imjado, Sinan-gun, South Jeolla, population 3,600, has the fastest Internet in the world. KT, the No. 2 mobile carrier in Korea, has made it a laboratory for how we will all live in the near future. Yesterday it announced a GiGA Island project on Imjado, part of its social responsibility efforts.

The company has installed ICT solutions in education, culture, energy and medical sectors to transform the backward island. The overarching goal is to make Imjado as decent and convenient a place to live as the Korean mainland ? or better.

“Residents of Imjado are now able to have a more convenient life than those on the mainland as they have the GiGA Internet,” said Choi Young-ik, head of Corporate Relationship division at KT.

The GiGA Island project is the first achievement of the Gigatopia goal announced by KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu in May. Gigatopia promises Internet speeds up to 10 times faster than normal.

Imjado, the first subject of the project, is around the same size as Gangnam district of southern Seoul, but the population is 0.6 percent Gangnam’s. In the past, there had been a lack of educational and cultural infrastructures.

Through ICT solutions, KT aims to reduce educational and cultural gap between the remote island and the mainland, cut down on labor costs and improve medical services.

It also hopes to boost the local economy through smart agriculture and by using environment-friendly energy.

The lives of Imjado’s children have changed significantly. For a video mentoring system called KT Dream School, 20 foreign students studying in Korea volunteered as mentors for elementary school students in Imjado. They teach them remotely.

The island’s welfare center has become a cinema with KT’s Olleh GiGA UHD TV. The health care center started screening residents for diabetes and sending the results to their smartphones.

KT started the project after receiving a letter from a customer in Gwangju, South Jeolla, who suggested KT establish the latest ICT based services in remote areas in South Jeolla, where Internet penetration is low.

“We express our gratitude to KT and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning for having interest in this place, which is far from the metropolitan areas and with a small population,” said Ko Kill-ho, governor of Sinan County at the GiGA Island Declaration Ceremony held in Imjado. “Sinan-gun now has become a leading place, not an Internet backwater.”

The GiGA Island project is not designed for Imjado alone but can be applied to any place that the Internet reaches, KT said.

“Starting with the GiGA Island project on Imjado, we hope that this business model would spread all over the country,” said Oh Young-ho, head of KT’s communications team.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON, PARK SOO-RYEON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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