South Korea’s 10-minute city: no more plastic spoons, please



Yonhap, a South Korean newspaper, reports that the system would use wireless sensors to automate all aspects of urban life

Spare a thought for those in Seoul: one day soon, they will live in a city that is drastically smarter than the one we know now. As detailed by Yonhap, a local South Korean newspaper, the city will be a “10-minute city” that will use wireless sensors to automate all aspects of urban life.

Each home would have its own high-tech do-it-yourself refrigerator, wireless-connected to the municipal electricity network, which would in turn supply recycling water from the nearby landfill. In a city that is a hotbed of antisocial behavior, the smart refrigerator could – quite literally – deliver all the necessary social signals to keep the insular society to a respectable level.

Yonhap, of course, exaggerates little. Seoul already spends a fortune on multi-billion dollar projects. Several major hotels on the third ring road are slated to become “Smart Pads” that can control the temperature in guest rooms, remotely control the lighting system in buildings and create Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city. In a city where there are almost no car-free days, Seoul has rolled out a scooter-sharing plan to help get commuters to and from work quicker. The government is also considering allowing medical companies to collect personal data from drug patients to ensure that they’re always taking the drugs they should.

Then there are the amenities. The 8,000-plus residents of the evacuated section of a building in the financial district know that they are perfectly cool, thanks to a central air-conditioning system on wheels that leaves no room for concern. While official reports don’t say whether security cameras will be placed in every home, the government is installing a data-mapping system in public areas that would allow the city to keep a real-time watch on, say, traffic.

Public transportation fares would be different to the ones they pay today. The government has suggested that commuters might pay a per-hour fee rather than a fixed monthly amount, in order to pass the financial burden onto the private sector.

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