An Interview with the Seoul Chief Information Officer, Younghoon Choi
What do you think made your government a good candidate for the subnational pilot program?
Seoul is very famous for its IT infrastructure and highly developed e-governance. Openness means many things to government, but many of the programs should be based on IT technology, like open data, any programs that can improve government efficiency with the use of IT. Seoul is a good candidate because of this. Seoul is the president of WeGO, the World e-Governments Organizations of Cities and Local Governments, which counts among its members one hundred city and regional governments. If we can have success during the OGP pilot program period, we can use our program in other cities.
Do you think that the concepts you’ve applied in Seoul could be replicated in other cities in Korea or in other parts of the world?
Of course it is possible, and before we joined OGP our e-governance system was deployed by other cities around the world and in Korea. Actually, Seoul is the flagship of Korea – every other local government uses our model to apply to their own e-governance system. We are willing to share our experience with other cities. For some reason, probably from an economic development perspective, they are suffering from a lack of OGP/UNDP support programs.
Seoul is well known for IT infrastructure; how do you think Seoul’s experience can help developing countries where they don’t have that infrastructure?
With the fast adoption of smartphones, it is easier for us to skip some steps using mobile telecom infrastructure. Some models are very easy to implement and deploy with the simple use of smartphones and mobile telecom networks.
What is the biggest challenge in implementation of open government initiatives?
The bureaucracy of the government of the city! In Korea, the national and city government are always trying to break up the bureaucracy of government offices. The bureaucracy is extensive and it’s not always easy to find what you need.
Seoul has already had some success with participatory budgeting and financial transparency programs. How do you plan to expand these in terms of scope and usage?
For the participatory budgeting program, we are trying to invite a wide number of participants using IT. Last year, we applied a mobile system to the participatory budgeting program – about 1% of citizens participated (100,000 people).
Seoul has a lot of big tech companies. How are you partnering with them to launch these programs?
This year, we started a program to cooperate with tech companies. Our mayor and the heads of private sector companies had a meeting together to find out more about the partnership program and pilot program. 15 companies joined the meeting, including local telecom companies and some global tech companies, including Intel and Cisco. We are trying our best to create a cooperative program.
Mr. Young-Hoon Choi is the Assistant Mayor for Information Technology and Chief Information
Officer of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Prior to joining Seoul City, Mr. Choi served as professor at NHN Next Institute and Chief Technology Officer at SK Communications Co., Ltd.
He leads the Information System Planning Bureau of Seoul City, and it is through this Bureau that Seoul City manages public services, provides administrative and geographic information, operates broadband communication networks and manages the Data Center, promotes information security, and plans and implements e-government projects. Mr. Choi is currently focusing on the development of new IT services which utilizes IoT, big data and social innovation based on IT technology.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Seoul National University and a master’s degree in Computer Science from Pohang University of Science and Technology.