South Korea’s Data Dam project to fuel digital economy through new cloud flagships and advanced data centers

In the midst of another COVID-19 surge, the South Korean Government kicked off the national ‘Data Dam’ project to help the country’s digital economy adapt to a post-pandemic world.

Shared through 5G networks, the project will collect and process information from public and private sectors to create useful data and stimulate new technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

Overcoming great depressions

The Data Dam, named after the Hoover Dam that helped the United States overcome the Great Depression, will target seven key business areas for support.

Elementary, middle and high school students in South Korea endured a rocky learning experience for most of 2020 due to the pandemic, switching back and forth between on-campus learning to online classes. Seeing the unfortunate effects on students’ wellbeing, the education sector will be a core focus of Data Dam.

Under the project, content materials for online courses will be expanded and digitised. The overall education infrastructure will be improved to create an offline/online integrated learning environment.

“Initially, it was expected that the latest project could create some 24,000 jobs, but companies that picked for the educational AI project alone said they need to hire at least 28,000, which will push up the overall employment figures”, the Ministry of Science and ICT said.

The educational AI initiative is considered a centerpiece of the Data Dam project, with an anticipated 1,250 projects to be developed, thousands of jobs created and US$240 million allocated to make it happen.

On top of this, the project will focus on boosting the digital economy through the creation of cloud flagships and building big data platforms and setting up advanced data centers.

A total of 4,739 companies and institutions have forwarded ideas to implement the data, with 2,100 projects being supported in the first year alone.

The Data Dam will be rolled out as part of the Government’s Digital New Deal plan announced in July.

Inside the Digital New Deal

Technology has helped South Korea effectively combat the pandemic, and now President Moon Jae-In’s government wants to further develop it to benefit the rest of the country through the Digital New Deal.

The Digital New Deal is a five-year blueprint by the South Korean government to spearhead the country’s smooth transition into the realm of 5G and artificial intelligence. 

The Deal hopes to achieve twelve goals in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in the country, including the integration of 5G and AI into all sectors, the digitalisation of the education sector, the expansion of smart cities and improving digital access in rural and disadvantaged areas.

The Moon government will be spending an estimated US$68.6 billion by 2025 on the new deal to create almost one million jobs in the country.

To spur digital transformation and cooperation with fellow APAC countries during these unprecedented and uncertain times, Korea has also adopted a knowledge sharing initiative to emphasise the important role of data-based policies and development of digital solutions through ICT and emerging technologies.

The initiative agreed by the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group, consisting of APAC nations as well as the USA, Canada, Russia and countries in South America, will look to share best practice solutions and strengthen cooperation in the Asia Pacific region and international community to facilitate digital transition to address global challenges.

Enabled by initiatives like these, South Korea boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world as well as one of the world’s fastest internet speeds. As the government combines and refines the status of South Korea as one of the four Asian Tigers, the New Deal will look to give the country the boost it needs to remain a digital powerhouse.

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