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[2016] Mayor’s Speech

  • Session Talks at World Economic Forum, Davos

  • [2016] Mayor’s Speech SMG 3793

    Session Talks – (1) Fostering Innovation in Cities

    World Economic Forum
    Davos-Klosters, Switzerland

    Jan 20, 2016

    Question: What is the one key challenge that you are currently focusing on in your city? What is the one breakthrough solution that you are testing in your city and from which others could learn?

    Mayor Wonsoon Park : How do you get home late at night? In Seoul, citizens take the “Owl Bus.” Of course, it is not a real owl. The Owl Bus is a bus that is operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and runs from midnight to dawn.

    One university student complained on social media that it was difficult to get home after the subway closes. Many citizens agreed with him. In response, the Seoul Metropolitan Government analyzed 3 billion phone calls between midnight and dawn, identified the locations that had the highest concentration of people during these late night hours, and began Owl Bus operations for nine different routes.

    It was not long before the citizens took to social media and commented on the Owl Buses. We looked over several thousand comments on social media and did our best to reflect our citizens’ suggestions on how to improve the Owl Bus. Nowadays, the Owl Bus services more than 6,000 passengers every day and the customer satisfaction rate is high. The Owl Bus is a great example of how big data and civic participation can create an innovation in public administration.

    The fourth industrial revolution is happening not only in industries and companies, but also in public administration. I believe that governments, especially local governments, which engage in close interaction with the citizens, can make full use of big data and civic participation to create further innovations in public administration.

    Seoul is a relatively affluent city. It is the capital of the 10th largest economy in the world, and has a per capita income of 20,000 dollars. However, the quality of life of the citizens of Seoul is still unsatisfactory. Seoul ranks low in happiness and high in terms of suicide rate. It is challenged by problems such as low growth, an increasing income gap, climate change, crime, a low birth rate, an ageing population, and more. Seoul is desperately in need of innovation.

    Innovation begins with small actions taken by the citizens. Together with the citizens, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will continue to strive to create more innovation going forward.

    ▶ More information on Owl Bus Policy:


    Session Talks – (2) Governors Policy Meeting for Infrastructure & Urban Development

    World Economic Forum
    Davos-Klosters, Switzerland

    Jan 21, 2016

    Question: How can policy makers create an environment that fosters innovation in engineering, construction, and real estate?

    Mayor Wonsoon Park : In Seoul, we pursue collaborative governance in order to foster innovation in engineering, construction, and real estate.

    A good example is the “2030 Master Plan for Seoul.” This urban plan was created with the active participation of the citizens. The citizens actively participated in envisioning, designing, and determining this urban plan. One citizen who took part in this process said that he felt proud to be a citizen of Seoul, participating in urban planning.

    Francois Ascher, a French sociologist, wrote in his book 〈Metropolis: The Future of Cities〉, “The future of cities in the new era should not be a metropolis that focuses on growth and expansion, but a metropolis that aims for sustainability and connectivity.”

    He is right. As we move forward, relationships, processes, time, and ideas are becoming more valuable than functionality, results, speed, and efficiency. Urban renewal is becoming more important than urban development.

    Another good example is the “Seoul Station Overpass Renewal Project.” There was a good deal of controversy over what to do with the overpass, which was regarded as a symbol of industrialization and urbanization in the 1970s but had deteriorated severely over time. Should we demolish the overpass, or should we renew it? After consultation and deliberation, we chose to renew it.

    When this project is completed, the overpass will be transformed into a walking path. The citizens will be able to enjoy leisurely walks with their families and friends. In addition, Seoul will be one step closer to becoming a greener city, a healthier city, and a more sustainable city.

    ▶ For more information on 2030 Master Plan for Seoul:

    ▶ For more information on Seoul Station Overpass Renewal Project:


    ▶ Go to Mayor’s Speech at Global Shapers: Meet the Leader on Jan 21, 2016: