What can we learn from Songdo IBD, a $35 billion, 1500 acre model for future smart city ?

Yuan Shi
Yuan Shi
Oct 1, 2016 · 3 min read
Songdo,South Korea, 1.5hr to Shanghai, 2hr to Tokyo, 3.5hr to Hong Kong

In South Korea, 35 miles away from Seoul, Songdo IBD, which is probably the smartest city in the world, has been built ground up near Yellow Sea. 1500 acre, with more than $35 billion investment, it is a utopian pilot land for developers to invest enormously in technologies, so what experience does this ambitious prototype provide us for future smart cities?

Energy: The network connects all the components in the city, all the building subsystems together, so that energy savings could be deployed systematically. With all the innovations, energy consumption in each building is reduced 30 percent compared to traditional buildings.

Waste : There is no garbage bins on street and no garbage trucks as well. Instead, garbage is thrown into pipes that will suck the garbage underground, disposing of waste, and recycling what can be recycled. Targeted waste recycling is 76% by 2020.

Water: All the rainfall coming to Songdo is collected and used directly as grey water to irrigation, flushing the toilets and washing the streets. Targeted water recycling is 40% by 2020.

Master Plan of Songdo IBD

Every aspect of life is carefully calculated and designed in Songdo, but is it really a utopia everyone wants to live?

In New Songdo City, each resident will have a smart-card house key,which can be used to get on the subway, pay a parking meter, see a movie, borrow a free public bicycle and so on. It will be anonymous, won’t be linked to personal identity, and if lost , people can quickly cancel the card and reset door lock. Skeptics say ‘Big Brother’ implications for this hyper-aware model of urban management seem to be disturbing.

Critiques also point out , Songdo, like modernist cities from 1960s, Chandigarh and Bubaneswar in India, Almere in Netherlands or Milton Keynes in UK, is just develop a kind of unique urban character. Now technology is chosen as Songdo’s character, then it selects the wealthy instinctively, which would only worsen class divisions in a broader picture.

Moreover, people are just feel bored, because nothing more can be explored by walking the streets, as the city lacks diversity compared to naturally grown up cities.



[2]Cities of the Future: Songdo, South Korea.

[3]Rachel Keeton. When Smart Cities are Stupid.

[4]Rita Lobo. Could Songdo be the world’s smartest city?

[5]Hyunjin Koo. Korea’s Songdo International Business District.

[6]Richard Sennett. No one likes a city that’s too smart.

Civic Analytics & Urban Intelligence

Weekly signal articles written by graduate students at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP, Fall 2016)

Yuan Shi

Written by

Yuan Shi

Civic Analytics & Urban Intelligence

Weekly signal articles written by graduate students at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP, Fall 2016)

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