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ICT, ubiquity and public policy

TIC, ubiquité et politique publique. Avant-propos
Woo-Kung Huh, Irene K. Shim et Mark I. Wilson
p. 5-6

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1After decades of strong industrial growth, advanced urban economies around the world now face a range of challenges associated with the shift to a knowledge based economy and its resultant information society. Economic change, globalization, and the role of information and communication technologies (IT) blend to create both distress and opportunity. The challenges all involve transition, each with costs and benefits and the power to change the nature of urban life in advanced metropolitan areas. This special issue of NETCOM stems from a 2009 meeting of the Digital Communities group of the International Geographical Union’s Commission on the Geography of Global Information Society. South Korea was selected as the host country due to its leadership in ICT and U-City development, and to focus on the urban and rural dimensions of information society.

2Ubiquitous computing and the U-City refer to the ability to access, manage, and transmit information from any location within a city or region. Ubiquitous computing blankets places, so that residents and businesses can access information and communicate while moving, and undertake transactions in any location. The growth and sophistication of IT is also associated with knowledge and advanced economies. Ubiquitous computing should be seen as both a technological force as well as a socio-economic force. The technologies themselves are already available; the challenge of ubiquitous systems is in making access easy from any location and for every person. Developing the U-City takes bold leadership and a vision for a different urban future. Among the challenges are the social and economic contexts in which ubiquitous computing takes place. The roll out of a ubiquitous system must be matched with the legal, financial, security, and social conditions that affect how the system is used.

3Given the challenges and opportunities faced in South Korea and other countries, the conference addressed the establishment of U-Cities that offer ubiquitous computer access, and the contrasting circumstances of ICT access in rural areas. Our host city for the conference, Andong, also provided insights into ICT policy as it had recently been selected as a new provincial capital and plans to utilize ICT in this new function. The potential of ubiquitous information access, ICT and the role of a capital city, and ways to provide access in all areas were common themes at the 2009 conference.

4A range of papers presented at the conference are collected here in a special edition of NETCOM, with emphasis on regional variation in access and policy; the contribution of ICT to social interaction and relationships; healthcare services and supply chains are considered in two papers, while other papers considered cybergeography and ICT as a method for urban regeneration. This special issue has been organized by Woo-kung Huh (Seoul National University), Irene Shim and Mark Wilson (Michigan State University).

5One theme among the papers in this special issue is how people and places gain access to ICT services, and the role of government in supporting access. Yoshio Arai and Sae Naganuma discuss the geographical divide in broadband access across Japan and the role of policy in its development.

6Access remains a universal issue, demonstrated in European case study by Sten Lorentzon who investigates broadband policy and its implications for competitiveness in Swedish regions.

7Several papers considered social aspects of ICT. Mikoto F. Kukimoto examined how Japanese mothers living in France are able to maintain cultural and linguistic ties through the use of ICT. In another set of papers, scholars report on the role of ICT in the growing personal and policy issues associated with healthcare. In this edition, Tsutomu Nakamura explores how ICT is used in healthcare supply chains by studying drug wholesaling in Japan. Soo-kyung Park continues the examination of health care in an article on the use of telemedicine in Korea and Japan.

8Further perspectives are offered by Henry Bakis and Jérémie Valentin, who consider the theoretical and conceptual issues raised by Web 2.0 in terms of the relationship between real and virtual space. Eunseong Jeong, K. Irene Shim and Mark Wilson consider the potential of ICT as a way to assist in urban regeneration, with special attention on the role of retailing in urban redevelopment.

9This special edition of NETCOM conveys some of the opportunities and issues facing policy makers, practitioners and scholars as they prepare for life in an era of ubiquitous computing. We welcome you to this issue and to future events organized by the IGU Commission on the Geography of Global Information Society (

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Woo-Kung Huh, Irene K. Shim et Mark I. Wilson, « ICT, ubiquity and public policy »Netcom, 24-1/2 | 2010, 5-6.

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Woo-Kung Huh, Irene K. Shim et Mark I. Wilson, « ICT, ubiquity and public policy »Netcom [En ligne], 24-1/2 | 2010, mis en ligne le 10 juin 2013, consulté le 17 mai 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Woo-Kung Huh

Professor in the Seoul National University, Dept. of Geography.

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Irene K. Shim

Director of Korean Programs, School of Planning, Design and Construction Michigan State University.

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Mark I. Wilson

Professor, Michigan State University.

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Netcom – Réseaux, communication et territoires est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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