Mayor of Seoul Park Won Soon made a point to visit a site in front of the University of Tokyo, which had been restored after a sinkhole had opened up in 2014. This was the first item on his agenda on the first day of his visit to Japan, which started on February 2, 2015. He was then briefed on the technology to respond to sinkholes by personnel from the Bureau of Construction of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, with which he later signed an ‘Administrative Agreement on Technological Exchange for Responding to Sinkholes’.
By signing this agreement, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is planning to capitalize on the opportunity to adopt Japan’s technologically advanced capacity for preventing sinkholes, a capacity some 20 years more advanced than Korea’s. Based on practical and active exchanges, the plans are to transform Seoul’s policy. Instead of being reactive to sinkholes once they have formed, the focus will be on proactive, preventive action, thereby enhancing the safety of citizens.
Through the agreement, the two city governments have agreed to build a strategic partnership for their citizens’ safety. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will receive, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the methods of identifying the causes and conducting investigations on the break out of holes under road surfaces, how to draft a sinkhole manual, and the response and restoration measures to be taken upon the discovery of holes or outbreaks of sinkholes. In exchange, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will receive an IT-based pot hole report system, which the Seoul Metropolitan Government is currently developing, among others.
Moreover, they will engage in mutual staff exchanges for practical and technological exchanges. This agreement was initiated by the “Agreement on Exchange and Cooperation between the Seoul Metropolitan City and Tokyo Metropolitan City ” signed on July 23, 2014, which was followed by a working-level visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (September 26, 2014), and an agreement to unconditionally exchange advanced technology against sinkholes. In this regard, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government expressed its intent to cooperate, with regards to sinkhole prevention technology, with the Seoul Metropolitan Government in the “Basic Strategy for City Diplomacy” signed on December 25, 2015.
※ Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Taxi Pothole Report System
<Adoption of Japan’s technological know-how in ‘Bridge management monitoring systems’>
Meanwhile, Mayor Park visited Tokyo Gate Bridge and studied a bridge monitoring system (BRIMOS) developed and adopted by Japan. Tokyo Gate Bridge was built over an arterial highway some 2,618 meters long and 21 meters wide and connects to Haneda Airport. The bridge cost around ¥ 112.5 billion (approximately KRW 1 trillion) and was competed in 2012. Its unique structure earned it the nickname, “Dinosaur Bridge.”
BRIMOS collects real-time data on displacement, acceleration and strain, and manages the condition of the bridge in real-time. Currently, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has a similar online monitoring system for ten bridges that cross the River Han, but it plans to adopt more advanced technology, including the “large vehicle weight monitoring system” to undergo pilot tests in Seoul so as to prevent damage to bridges due to overloaded vehicles.
The Bridge Safety Department , newly installed for greater professional and systematic bridge management, in January 2015, will lead the efforts of the Seoul Metropolitan Government to actively adopt lessons from Japan’s rich experiences and to incorporate them into domestic policies on bridge repair and maintenance.
After visiting the site, Mayor Park remarked, “There is no greater lesson in city safety than advanced experience.” He went on, “About 40 percent of the bridges in Seoul is more than 30 years old, and therefore, we will devote our best efforts to the prevention of accidents through active technological exchange with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has rich experience and sophisticated technology for the repair and maintenance of old bridges.”