Korea to build open source national map system

The US$138.9 million project over four years may boost the acceptance of open source software as a "core source technology" in the country, says a Korean official.

The South Korean government made the world sit up and take notice when they brought in the world's largest scale Linux servers to construct its National Education Information System (NEIS); now, it is making headlines again with another open source based system project.

Recently, the Korean administration began overhauling its national mapping system. Its largest scale open source mapping system project GIS (Geographic Information System), will meet international standards on the use of digital street maps and addresses.

An internationally accepted 'street name and address system'
The Korean address system uses a land based numbering system. In other words, it combines the land lot number with one's address. Because of the inferior and outdated system, it is adding to the traffic congestion problem and incurring extra expenses.

These situations led the Korean government to focus on upgrading its national map and address system to a new one that can meet those available globally.

The South Korean Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has formed a team that assigns street names and building numbers and it is in the process of updating the database (until Nov. 2006). The database is expected to be ready by year 2007.

The initial phase of the project includes the establishment of a centralized center, current situation analysis, the DB standardization process and the final creation of the master DB.

This year alone, the project will cost US$37.4 million, with US$45.5 million in 2007, US$29 million in 2008 and another US$27 million in 2009.

Why open source for building unified center?
The project is open source based. Troupe leader Doo-soo Kim said: "When we brought in the unified system in February of 2006, we considered for a system that will not depend on any particular vendor(s) and same time that can fulfill both TCO and DB needs. So we went with the open source based system."

Moreover, to execute this project, the project team reviewed all the avenue of earlier cases in domestic and abroad. According to findings of the U.S. CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies) in September 2004, over 45 countries were considering running public programs using open source software. The rationale for using open source software were cost-cutting and promoting the software industry in those countries.

Governments in Europe and also in China brought in Linux systems for part of their railroad system, and Brazil is also working on open source promotion projects. UN also formed an 'open source promotion team' to adapt to an open source environment.

In India, where open source is popular, its use is also heating up its domestic industry with over 40 percent of 340 companies using Linux based open source servers, according to June 2005 market survey. In Nov. 2005, one of the largest financial groups--Canara bank--introduced Linux system to automate its one thousand branches.

The South Korean government also funds and supports various plans to its administrations for the open source related expenses thus further promoting its public programs.

The unified digital map DB central center will be linking each data centers in providence, county, city levels to link Web servers, DB servers, administrator servers and GIS servers using Redhat's enterprises Linux 4.0 version.

The GIS engine 'IntraMap/Web' by KSIC was picked for its open source software. This shows the administration's intent to spread open source software and to apply it to other public access projects in the future. This kind of project can be an ideal showcase for the open source and foundation to overseas ventures for the domestic firms.

High probabilities in Effectiveness, Applicable, Expandable applications applied.
The unified center's consortium members are comprised of KSIC, Ssangyong information and Communication Corp., Bitline, Geospartial Information Technology Co., Hansung UI Engineering and Waybus.

The consortiums studied and analyzed similar overseas market, laws, and regulations including street naming and address searching, system capacity and effectiveness along with professional advisors to establish and design its architecture and information management, overall system improvement and unified coordinate system and standard DB system.

Iin addition to creating a unified center, the focusing is also on R &D, to deliver the best standard system that can be used from city level to county and providences (16 major cities and 234 local cities). The KSIC/CDB-A system meets the international standards that are built around data, architecture and assets. In other words, it is a system that utilizes asset repository (domain engineering), reusing and registering components that are generated from R & D stages.

The unified system center will provide statistics, security management, and telematics. LBS, Web-GIS that can be utilized to deliver location information and by providing the free information it will raise its global competitiveness and level of effectiveness to fit its Ubiquitous vision.

Kim note: "General use of Linux hasn't been created yet. Consensus of acceptance is still lacking somewhat, and leadership from the government level and its role is crucial. We chose the Linux because of lower cost in setup and maintenance, free licensing fee and its ability to respond to any security breaches rapidly."

The unified center with its current dual system server will be further improved to tri servers in 2007 and up to quad servers by year 2008. Administrator server will also double by next year, which will be designed with open source software.

Global Competitiveness: Raising the bar with new address service
Upon the completion of the new address system and digitalized national map system, emergency response to fire and police will likely be accelerated and growth in transportation services can be expected. The system is also expected to boost various LBS (Location-Based Service); by providing precise traffic information, the traffic congestions could be eased.

According to the actual KRILA (Korea Research Institute for Local Administration) findings in August 2003 of 'Most ideal Road name map project plans', domestically overall projected savings in transportation, traffic congestion expense, postal cost and personal labor cost is US$80.5 million, and in five years' time, up to US$270 million.

In addition, logistic roadmaps for North-East Asian territory could be opened up to further strengthen competitiveness edge, utilization as public resources to enlarge markets in LBS or Telematics, GIS and related logistics industry and electronics commerce and help boost the economy.

Referring to the administration's ongoing digital map DB project, KIPA's open source software support center director commented: "The public and public agencies alike gained much needed confidence in open source software through this project and gained invaluable trust with using open source software as core source technology."

Lee Hyangseon of ZDNet Korea reported from Seoul.