February 29, 2016
The mayor of Seoul, South Korea, has announced plans to make free Wi-Fi available in every public space of Seoul -- including moving subways and buses -- by 2017.
The plans are part of a larger initiative called Seoul Digital Plan 2020, the goal of which is integrating the Internet of Things (IoT) into the city's fabric by investing $373.9 million on digital infrastructure within the next five years. In addition to free citywide Wi-Fi, a new digital parking system will be installed that allows car owners to check the location of their vehicles via smartphone, fostering 30 financial-technology start-ups in the city, operating IoT-themed hackathons and conferences, and establishing closed-circuit TV cameras across the city to improve safety and reduce crime.

"This year will be the starting point in our city's journey toward becoming the real global digital capital. Initial Plans for Digital Seoul 2020 will serve as a guide map," Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon said in a statement. "Using digital techniques, most policies will be established by citizens, the beneficiaries of public digital service, with an aim to make our city one of the world's leading digital capitals by 2020. Plus, through a new digital industry, our city will create jobs, which will stimulate the economy, and solve various urban problems."

The IoT promises a higher state of connectivity through tangible objects that are connected to the Internet, allowing them to collect data and share it with other devices in order to deliver information and services to users and citizens. So-called "connected cities" like Seoul are well positioned to take advantage of the emerging technology.

Seoul won't be the first destination to offer free citywide Wi-Fi. Other cities that have implemented free municipal Wi-Fi either across the city or in select parts of the city include Buenos Aires, Argentina; Helsinki, Finland; Geneva, Switzerland; Montreal; San Francisco; Miami Beach, Fla.; Naperville, Ill.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; El Paso, Texas; and San Jose, Calif.