Smart City: A Collaborative Journey Towards a Human-centered Future
Smart City: A Collaborative Journey Towards a Human-centered Future
  • Khahk Ji-young, Ph. D.
  • 승인 2020.07.06 21:16
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What is a smart city and why do we need it?
We are now facing one of the largest waves of disruptive changes known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is expected to change almost every aspect of the way people interact with the world. The whole city is going through a major transformation as a strong wind of “connectedness” and “intelligence” blows towards the city where we live. A variety of smart devices are being introduced frequently, and they are gradually turning our living environment into a “Smart City”.
Besides those personal and/or privately owned devices, we are already quite familiar with, novel devices for public uses such as intelligent streetlights are being deployed. Eventually, almost every component that constitutes the city such as vehicles, roads, and buildings, will be replaced by their smarter version. Furthermore, just as we select and download applications on our smartphones, a variety of solutions such as water, waste, energy, and safety, to name only a few, will be ready to be downloaded on our smart cities.
What is it like to live in a smart city? What are the benefits of a smart city? Here are some examples: investing in smart technologies will help promote a safer community; urban transportation will be improved while even reducing the environmental footprint; everyday life in cities will be more effective thanks to data-driven decision-making; cities will become a more attractive and delightful place for residents to live by promoting a connected citizen experience. But the best part is that, when cities innovate, they are expected to facilitate massive expansions in regional growth and provide the people who live in those cities to be provided with new economic development opportunities.

The world needs ‘smart engineers’ to realize a desirable future
Behind the scenes of a smart city stands a group of well-known information and communication technologies such as IoT, Big Data, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence making all the changes possible. Although each and every technology is essential as a core enabler of a smart city, technology is not the only recipe to create a smart world. 
In fact, to most people, especially if they are not so tech-savvy, all those new terms may sound like a bunch of jigsaw pieces scattered all around us. Guess what we do when we are puzzled playing a jigsaw game: We look at the bigger picture. Therefore, it is recommended that we should consider a smart city as a bigger picture for all those new devices, solutions, and technologies to fit in rather than a mere collection of enabling technologies.
A lot of IoT products appeared in the market aiming at the smart world so far, but many of them were disappointing. They were often useless, and as a result, failed to attract people, i.e., the market. On the other hand, some features recently deployed in premium cars such as intelligent headlights or advanced driver assistant systems are quite attractive. In other words, there are bad versus good products out there. Likewise, it is reasonable to believe that there are bad versus good smart cities. The world is now facing a challenging mission to harness connectedness and intelligence into our lives without puzzling those people who use them. 
So the key to the success of a smart city is a smart engineer. Universities should nurture “people-centered, entrepreneurial smart engineers with a bigger-picture mindset” for tomorrow’s smart cities to be successful. In other words, all engineering students should be encouraged to set their goals to reinventing technology and business to make the world more people-centered. The advent of a connected and intelligent information era should be considered to be new opportunities to collaborate with professionals in a variety of technology and business domains to make the world a better place for people to live in. 

POSTECH campus as a living laboratory for a smart city
Nonetheless, smart cities may still feel distant for most students who are not related to that field. That is because, no matter how good engineers are, it's hard to make the best of what they have never experienced before. This explains why at the center of POSTECH’s smart city research strategy, there is utilizing our campus as a ‘living laboratory’ for creating smart city technologies. A living smart campus means a campus where all the students and faculties are invited to participate in planning, designing, developing, and/or testing a variety of products and services before they go up and running. 
Universities are similar to cities in that members live together and form communities within a given space. The only difference is that the members are more prepared to accept various experiments and challenges than ordinary citizens are. By encouraging students to freely imagine, experiment, and cultivate ideas on campus, the POSTECH campus itself will eventually be an excellent showcase for world-class smart city technologies and businesses. The creative culture of promoting innovation in a living smart campus will attract more and smarter people, and, as a result, POSTECH will be home to many startups, ventures, and unicorns, eventually growing into a smart city ecosystem someday. Besides, we will also acquire Postechian’s pride as a priceless bonus.

Khahk Ji-young, Ph. D. / Industry-Academia / Collaboration Professor / Department of Industrial and Managment Engineering, POSTECH
Khahk Ji-young, Ph. D. / Industry-Academia / Collaboration Professor / Department of Industrial and Managment Engineering, POSTECH

 


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