Mayor Park touts Seoul at CES in Vegas

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Mayor Park touts Seoul at CES in Vegas

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Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, far right, gives a presentation on Seoul’s drive to become a smart city during a session of the CES 2020 technology conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday. [NEWS1]

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon vowed to enhance “people-centered sustainable innovation” in the Korean capital during a session at this year’s CES technology conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, promising that the underprivileged will not be overlooked in Seoul’s drive to become a smart city.

“Smart city Seoul aims to achieve people-centered sustainable development,” Park, a former human rights lawyer, said during a CES special session on smart cities. “To state the obvious, technology is valuable when used for the sake of human beings.”

“Seoul is adopting smart city technologies to bring changes to the services in the area closely related to the citizens’ lives: air quality, transportation, parking, safety, disaster response and welfare,” Park said. “Smart city solutions should include city-oriented values like convenient transportation and a clean environment, going hand in hand with people’s lives.”

The mayor described several Seoul polices in his speech, including the city’s integrated data-sharing platform, in which administrative and urban data is shared, and also the so-called Democracy Seoul, an online platform where Seoul citizens propose, debate and vote on new ideas for the city.

In the midst of the rapid changes, however, Park underscored that the underprivileged must not be neglected.

“Smart cities should not overlook the underprivileged, and [smart city policies] should be enjoyed by everyone as a basic human right,” he noted.

In an effort to bridge the digital divide and guarantee “digital rights,” Park stressed how Seoul is currently providing free Wi-Fi in many public areas and described plans to expand the areas being covered.

Before his keynote speech, Park met Gary Shapiro, CEO and president of the Consumer Technology Association, host of CES, and suggested bringing a version of the trade show to Seoul, to create what he called “CES Seoul.”

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said in a statement that Park described Seoul’s infrastructure for international conferences to Shapiro and how the Korean capital was equipped with exhibition facilities, hotels and cultural infrastructure. Shapiro was said to have been impressed.

Later that night, Park was invited to offer his congratulatory remarks at a Korean business forum. During the event, Park vowed to “foster 10,000 talented individuals in the areas of future technologies” and “add a thousand more spaces for tech start-ups.”

Park’s visit to Las Vegas was the first on a three-leg tour in the United States to promote Seoul’s tech-savvy infrastructure and attract interest from potential investors. Park departed Seoul Tuesday and plans to be back next Thursday after also visiting San Francisco and Washington.

His delegation includes Seoul officials, reporters and representatives of some 20 small- and mid-sized companies.

On the remainder of his trip, Park is scheduled to meet former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, give a lecture at Stanford University, offer a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, and meet Brian Bulatao, the U.S. under secretary of state for management.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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