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2019.04.29
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[ICT] Current Status and Outlook of Korea’s Big Data Market

As big data analysis creates new values based on the massive amount of information, the related market is rapidly expanding. Korea has established infrastructure for big data collection, provision, and utilization by taking advantage of its world-class ICT capability. As of 2018, the total market size of the domestic data industry amounts to KRW 15.1545 trillion, up 5.6 percent from KRW 14.353 trillion in 2017 (Ministry of Science and ICT, Korea Data Agency 2019). In 2018, the number of people working in the data industry was 318,062 in total, up 7.9 percent from 2017. Of them, the number of data positions was 82,623, 7.2 percent up from 77,105 in 2017 (Ministry of Science and ICT, Korea Data Agency 2019).


The Korean Government’s Big Data Policy

To shore up the growth momentum of the big data market, the Korean government has announced various support measures since 2018. In particular, it is to establish and implement policies by designating the year 2019 as “the first year to establish the infrastructure for data economy” (Ministry of Science and ICT, 2019).

The Korean government’s big data support policies can be classified into three categories. First, the government has been opening base points for big data analysis. It plans to invest KRW 74.3 billion in establishing 100 big data centers by organization (finance, environment, culture, media, transportation, territory and city, health care, energy, distribution and logistics, agriculture and fishery, and telecommunication, etc.), and 10 big data platforms by sector (in connection with data centers, to discover data-based innovative service and support business establishment and training, etc.).

Secondly, as the usage and distribution of personal information becomes relatively easier, there will be ways to foster the big data industry through the integration of personal information in communication, finance, and location. According to a survey conducted by the International Institute for Management and Development (IMD) in 2018, Korea was ranked 31 among 63 countries in the utilization and analysis of big data, lagging behind advanced countries. The government intends to expand the big data market by lifting excessive regulations imposed by the Act on Personal Information Protection, etc. It also aims to institutionalize safe industrial application of personal information by increasing the number of MyData projects from two to five–which uses personal information if prior agreement was obtained.

Last but not least, the Korean government intends to increase the share of projects applying IT, (i.e. AI and big data) to 35 percent by 2022, in line with the 6th National Digitalization Basic Plan (2018-2022). Also, it plans to actively utilize big data in resolving social issues such as prediction and prevention of crimes and disasters, and comprehensive management of particular matters. In the private sector as well, it has various plans to support big data application by companies through various measures such as creating platforms allowing easier establishment of business by leveraging both public data and private data.


The Status of Big Data Utilization in Korea

The Korean government has been bolstering its national competitiveness with active utilization of big data in the public sector. The public sector is using big data largely in three dimensions: establishing future national strategies; innovating public services; and dealing with current social issues.

First of all, big data has been emerging as the new source of future strategies driven by the exponential growth of real-time data and the development of technologies handling large volumes of data. Major advanced countries are running institutions to set future strategies that work out policy suggestions based on data analysis in order to preemptively respond to current social issues and future issues. For instance, the Horizon Scanning Center (HSC) of the UK is providing policy analysis service based on data to establish the UK’s future strategies. The Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning (RAHS) of Singapore is identifying risk factors and uncertainty factors that might influence the future of Singapore.

Meanwhile, the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) aims to create a research data-based data economy ecosystem by building a platform to share knowledge on national science and technology. KISTI, in consideration of promising future technologies presented by major organizations at home and abroad, identifies promising future technologies through big data analysis and suggests insightful technology trends , contributing to the government’s policymaking in the area of future science and technology.

Secondly, Korea’s local governments have been seeking out ways to innovate public services through big data analysis. Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) conducted analysis on big data to predict citizens’ demand at nighttime to address citizens’ difficulties caused by the unavailability of public transportation at night (e.g., bus and subway) and to ensure citizens’ safe return home. SMG has been providing nighttime buses on the routes developed through analysis on KT’s data of foot traffic for one month (based on three billion phone calls) and night cab use for seven days (700,000-800,000 cases per day).

Lastly, big data analysis is applied in resolving social issues–a mixture of various factors and evolving continuously–which requires in-depth understanding and accurate prediction. Also, as it takes more than the government’s efforts to resolve complex social issues, a network of people and researchers is required. The Korean government intends to make most use of big data analysis in resolving social issues, as demonstrated in its plan on the creation of the ecosystem on solving social issues including “around-the-clock issue detection based on big data” contained in its 2nd Comprehensive Plan on Solving Social Issues of the People Based on Science and Technology announced in June 2018.


Social Issues Diagnosis through Big Data Analysis and Tasks Ahead

The Korean government is planning to actively use big data analysis in resolving social issues. In the past, it has been difficult to reveal the behavior and perception of the public through data. However, with the easing on personal information regulations on the horizon, an attempt will be made to understand social issues through big data. In addressing 40 major social issues calling for urgent resolution, published by the Korean government in 2018, big-data analysis will be applied.


<Table 1> 40 Major Social Issues Requiring Urgent Solutions in Korea

40 Major Social Issues Requiring Urgent Solutions in Korea
Category 40 Major Social Issues
Health Chronic disease, Rare disease, Addiction
Degenerative brain/nerve disease, Mental disorder/intellectual disability*
Environment Domestic waste, Indoor air pollution, Water pollution
Environmental hormones, Industrial waste*, Particular matter*
Culture & Leisure Culturally isolated, Lack of cultural and leisure facilities
Safety Sexual crime, Food safety, Cyber crime
Domestic safety accident, White collar crime*, Invasion of privacy*, Side effects of virtual currency*
Disaster Climate disaster, Chemical accidents, Infectious disease
Radiation contamination, Earthquake*, Fire safety*
Energy Power supply, Energy poverty
Housing & Transportation Defected or aged houses, Traffic congestion, Traffic safety
Family Isolation and suicide of the elderly, Domestic violence, Low birth rate*
Education Education gap, School violence
Social Integration Healthcare Inequality, Information inequality
Daily inconvenience of the underprivileged, Labor discrimination*

* Issues added in the 2nd Comprehensive Plan on Solving Social Issues Based on Science and Technology (Ministry of Science and ICT, 2018)


In step with the government’s direction, relevant organizations want to take advantage of big data analysis in solving social issues. KISTI has endeavored in diagnosing and discovering social issues, ranging from degenerative brain/nerve disease to chemical accidents. In close cooperation with related organizations, KISTI has achieved great progress in diagnosing and discovering social issues stretching from chemical safety accidents to the forecast of future society, mostly using public data. In particular, it built a cooperative system with government ministries, local governments, and companies in working out measures through big data analysis in the aftermath of the chemical accident in Ulsan Industrial Complex. It contributed to resolving the accident by analyzing the causes of leakage from various perspectives (Picture 1) including news keywords.


< Picture 1> Big Data Analysis on the Causes of Accidents



According to IDC, the government’s active use and support for big data policy to stimulate data and AI economy will play an important role in promoting the growth of the domestic big data analysis market. In this context, it is necessary to closely explore the government’s direction revealed through its response to social issues and the easing of regulations to foresee and respond to Korea’s big data market.

(KISTI Issue Brief No.5, “Big Data Analysis, Open the Ways to Solve Social Issues” ☞ Link was partially modified and supplemented for this paper.)


By Yong-il Jeong
Principal Researcher
(yijeong@kisti.re.kr)

Hee Jin Mun
Researcher
(hjmun99@kisti.re.kr)

Do Bum Chung
Senior Researcher
(dbchung@kisti.re.kr)

Department of Policy Research
Division of Policy
Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information


< *The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of KOTRA >



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