Category Archives: Busan – Korea


My journal of SCC busan – Days 18 – 21

DAYS 18-19

This is the final round. Everything must be ready for important milestones which kept us quite busy. In the morning of Day 19, our third checkpoint was scheduled with the global SCC team to follow up on our progress and to help on whatever last item asking for support. We reported how well went our last meeting with Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, and received warm congratulations for that achievement.

In the morning of Day 20, the most important milestone was scheduled, as this was the final presentation of our work in front of the Mayor of Busan. So we worked hard the day before to prepare a presentation summarizing the most important aspects of our recommendations, keeping in mind that all this needed to be translated. So the effort was also about making sure that the messages delivered in Korean were perfectly reflecting was we wanted to say. Here the role of KeeSeon was instrumental as we understood that there are different Korean languages, the daily life one and the one used for communications with official bodies. To make sure that we our messages will be well received, we had a first rehearsal with our liaison person from the Busan city, and then were invited by Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, to meet again with him for clarifying some technical aspects that he was not comfortable with after our second checkpoint with him. This was the opportunity for me to build a short powerpoint presentation (full of animations) illustrating through real use cases what is hidden behind the words “Descriptive”, “Predictive”, “Prescriptive”, “Internet of Things”, and “Blockchain”.

DAY 20

On the D-day (Day 20 if you follow me….), we all gathered in a large room of the City Hall and delivered our final presentation in front of the Mayor and around 30 other leaders of the Busan community, followed by almost a one hour Q&A sessions. Interestingly many comments and questions we get during this session were acknowledging the relevance of different aspects of our recommendations. As you can imagine, this was then followed by a photo shooting session, both indoors with officials, and also outdoors for the media.
To celebrate this important milestone, we gathered for lunch in a very nice Chineese restaurant with all the team, and for lunch in a wine bar where our skills to manipulate corks in some close-up tricks were benchmarked.

DAY 21

But the work was not completed as the most important remaining piece was to finish our full report that was started since more than 10 days. Thanks to all the preparatory work done so far, we avoid falling in a “panic mode” situation with an excessive remaining workload and were all happy to complete that task by Day 21 at 3PM.

So it is now time to get ready for leaving Busan, with a loooooong travel tomorrow to be back home, meeting with our family and friends.

This has been a fantastic experience, where I have been so happy to meet and work with people who were unknown to me three weeks ago and who are now part of my “best friends”. Some tears have dropped when Ji-Hyun left us, and others will fall later today….



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My journal of SCC Busan – Days 15-17

DAYS 15-17

If I am grouping these three days together, it is simply because they were all devoted to our second checkpoint with Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department. This is an important meeting as we have for the first time disclosed our recommendations and received feedback from Bae Kwang-hyo to get fully prepared for the final presentation in front of the Mayor. So we capitalized on all the “recommendation shaping” work done during the previous week, that we summarized into a presentation four our one-hour meeting with Bae Kwang-hyo. Obviously we had to take into account that this presentation will be translated from English to Korean, leaving us half the time to present, so asking us to be very focused on the key messages we wanted to pass.
Saturday and Sunday were thus devoted to this preparation work, while the full morning of Monday was spent for the final editing (and translation) of our presentation, followed in the late afternoon by the meeting. A great team work where our diversity of skills, experiences and cultural roots helped us to eventually build a presentation which was very well received by Bae Kwang-hyo.

To make all this happen, we had to keep our brains in an healthy condition, thus allocating some time to rest. On the afternoon of Saturday, we visited the charming Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, which departs from the other areas of the city of Busan, as shown on the picture below, with small, colored houses.
And to celebrate a successful presentation, we had the pleasure to be invited for dinner by Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General of Public Safety Department, with his staff in a nice restaurant. This was a very rewarding dinner, where our host acknowledged the work done so far, and asked us to further help the city of Busan after completion of our SCC mission.
On our way back to the hotel, we went to the top of one of the mountains of Busan, where we enjoyed a vivid view of Busan by night.

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My journal of SCC in Busan – Days 10 – 14

DAYS 10-14

Here comes the second week of our SCC engagement, which started by an important checkpoint with the Director General of Public Safety Department. This checkpoint was aimed to validate the scope upon which we will continue to work for the two remaining weeks of our study. We obtained full consensus as Bae Kwang-hyo, Director General mentioned “I realized why IBM is the world best IT company through your insights. I was surprised on your focus area. If you need additional interview or support, please let me know. We will invite the interviewees who participated in our project to the final presentation”. So a warm feedback acknowledging the relevance of our scope and of the associated argumentation.
The second week is in theory associated to the consolidation of all the findings we collected during the first week. In fact our second week was rather a transition week as we continued to have some few interviews as some of them didn’t take place during the first week. All together we had the opportunity to meet with more than 50 representatives from more than 25 institutions of the Busan city, covering the city municipality, the academia, the private sector and the citizens. As you can imagine a thorough source of information that was articulated by the five of us as a collection of 329 “findings” that we recorded in a spreadsheet. The challenge then was to perform a deep analysis of all these findings to eventually derive a set of recommendations for the city of Busan. We did that with an iterative approach, starting to associate the finding with “themes”, then “sub-themes” and finally with “domains”. A painful exercise, but which paid off at the end as it greatly helped grouping and segregating all these findings to define four domains and seven recommendations. Once this was done, most of our time was spent to start drafting the final report, first working altogether to ensure consistency across the different domains and recommendations, and then splitting the workload between us for editing the report.
The days were lasting a lot, typically from 8 AM to 10 PM, but always with an excellent atmosphere where we all learned about the subtleties between the American, Canadian, Korean, Norwegian and French humors.
Hopefully we also had some time for escaping from this demanding activity, the most memorable moment being the dinner that we had November 1st with Andrew Chang, Country General Manager of IBM Korea, and his staff. Andrew is a very nice fellow, very accessible, who learned us a lot about the Korean culture and business habits.

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My Journal of SCC in Busan – Days 8 & 9


And finally the first week end is there. Time to rest, but more importantly time for further immersing in the daily life of the Busan population.
As we spent all the week so far indoors for the official opening and for the different interviews with Busan municipality leaders, all the team was happy to spend a full Saturday outdoors. Most of the day was devoted for a urban walk along the coastal part of the “Galmaetgil Trail” (Seagull Trail). The Galmaetgil is a series of 21 trails that wind along the city’s coastline and through its avenues. The courses have been developed over the past several years and have proven popular for both locals and visitors alike. Walking the Galmaetgil puts hikers in touch with Busan’s natural beauty, along with giving them an appreciation for the city’s fascinating urban history and modern design.
The team decided to split into two groups, as understanding that we were not all trained at the same level for this type of “hiking”. The “bedridden male” team with Tony, Sebastian, Yongwhan and Frédéric left the hotel at 10AM while the “athletic female” team with Madhuri, KeeSeon and Joanne left the hotel at 11:30AM. The first team started his walk in a lovely harbor with local fishermen selling their fishes and shells.

We went then along the coast to reach the magnificent Haedong Yongung temple where the two teams gathered.

After a Korean seafood lunch, we continued our journey up to reach our final destination, the Haeundae Beach, after 25+ kilometer and near 400 m cumulated elevation. Nice experience for each of us, with different pains in the legs.

The day was clearly not over as we enjoyed the Busan Fireworks festival on the Gwangalli beach. One of the best fireworks I have ever seen, rich of a vivid combination of sounds and lights.


For the morning we have scheduled our “Community services Event”, as our Corporate Social Responsibility activity, which was held at the Centum Venture Town. This was an amazing opportunity for all of us to mentor middle and high school students, from 10 to 16, all as student announcers and volunteers in Busan English Radio. I was simply really surprised by the enthusiasm of all these young girls and boys, and more important by the relevance of the questions we were asked to answer. Some of them were really tricky to address, showing how the Korean youth seems to be more mature than their counterparts in Western Europe or North America. According to the Korean hospitality and culture, we received several nice gifts from them, and were invited at the end of the session by all the present moms to take photos with their own children.

After a team lunch in Busan down town, the afternoon was partly spent for souvenir shopping in the typical local Gukje market, and commuting back to the hotel for some remaining work on our SCC project.

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My Journal of SCC in Busan – Days 5-7

We are now moving forward with a series of interviews keeping us busy from 9AM to 7PM. Very dense days, but more important very interesting days as we receive first hand information on how the different bodies forming the Busan municipality ecosystem contribute to Emergency Management.
We interviewed a total of 23 people, as leaders of Busan National University, Busan University of Foreign Studies, Forestry and Green Space Division of Busan Metropolitan City, Climate and Environment Bureau of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Regional Office of Meteorology, National Disaster Management Research Institute, APEC Climate Center, Sejung I&C, Sjinc Corporation, Pukyong National University, Urban Safety Committee of Busan Metropolitan Council, Disaster Prevention Division of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Techno Park, KICS Organisation.
Although these Busan leaders addressed several risk areas, such as water flooding, fire, earthquake, landslide, we interestingly received common feedback on some specific aspects. So very valuable insights which will help us issuing recommendations which will touch the variety of domains addressed by the Emergency Management.
After the first very busy day, we get an amazing surprise…. our two colleagues Ji-Hyun and Kee-Seon managed to have their birthday on October 25th. Such an event takes precedence over anything else, and we celebrated this birthday in a Korean restaurant after a delicious local cuisine dinner.


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My journal of SCC in Busan – Days 2-4

We are still in Seoul and for the first time the whole team is gathered as KeeSeon joins the time for the working session in the afternoon. Before lunch time the “non local” team enjoyed an immersion in the city of Seoul as we were visiting the Gyeongbokgung palace. Very nice visit, with a calm, refreshing combination of heritage buildings and parks.


Then we went to the very top of a skyscraper for a scenic view of the city of Seoul. From there we realized how large is the city of Seoul.
The afternoon was devoted to work in IBM premises, with a presentation from KyoungJeon Kim’s, an SCC Busan Overview including Korean greeting and a global deck for Smarter Cities Challenge. Very valuable session with interesting discussion points where apparently we are already starting identifying and shaping some recommendations.
Last not least we enjoyed a team diner before taking a drink in the executive lounge of the hotel.


This was a transition day as we moved during the afternoon from Seoul to Busan. The morning was spent in IBM Seoul premises with a presentation of the IBM Client Center by KeeSeon, followed by two presentations from IBM Korea colleagues to help us better understand the local business context:

  • An update of the IBM Business strategy, in view of the local context of Busan where the agenda of the Mayor was interestingly articulated.
  • A presentation on Government and regulatory affairs, again providing very insightful perspectives on the local economical and business context.

Then after a good team lunch, we moved to Seoul central station to catch a high speed train for Busan. This was the opportunity to discover the Korean landscape where I was again impressed by the care given to the agricultural fields.

And we arrived in Busan !

My first impression when leaving the train was olfactory: no doubt, we were in an harbor, with all these flagrance’s that typically characterize a busy sea side. After commuting to the Lotte Hotel in the center of Busan, we enjoyed some rest in our hotel bedroom before the team dinner in an…. Italian restaurant. The Busan atmosphere is really nice, with a marriage of both international and Asiatic flavors. No surprise as the slogan of Busan is “Dynamic Busan, Asian Gateway”. I feel immersed in an amazing cocktail of modern avenues with high elevation buildings (not to say sky scrapers) and of small streets with approximate pavements, small houses and some craftsman boutiques. The two pictures below illustrate this nice combination.

lotte hotel



This is the important day where our Smarter Cities Challenge is officially starting. All the day was spent in the City Hall of Busan where we met with different leaders and municipality officers and get the first real immersion in their operating control centers, including the Smart Big Board (SBB) which is the cornerstone of the Busan Emergency Management strategy.


The day climax was clearly the official opening of the Smarter Cities Challenge, chaired by the Busan Mayor and the IBM Country General Manager.


During this very dense day we received a lot of insightful information, revealing manifold facets of the Busan municipality, both regarding organizational, technical and political aspects. At the end of the day, I wonder if we had in mind further questions than the ones answered during the sessions!
We left the City Hall around 7PM, followed in our hotel war room by a first debriefing session to share feedback and pave the road for tomorrow sessions.


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My journal of Smarter Cities Challenge in Busan

Bonjour !
Don’t be afraid if you do not understand French, this starting blog will be written in English…
In fact I have not yet authored any blog, but this new journey in South Korea seems to be the right opportunity to (try to) start a blog. When I am speaking about a new journey, I would rather say a new challenge as I am honored (and lucky) to be part of a Smarter Cities Challenge for the city of Busan in South Korea, where we will dive for three weeks in the mystery of Emergency Management. We are a team of five IBMers, coming from different horizons, with different background and different skills: exactly what is looked for in order to build a team revealing all the facets and talents of IBM.
Starting with the ladies:

  • Madhuri Chawla from Canada
  • KeeSeon Noh from South Korea
  • Anthony Arcuri from the USA
  • Sebastian Taylor from Norway
  • Frédéric Bauchot from France, member of the IBM Academy of Technology #ibmaot.

I do not know if I should call this first part of my blog “Day 1” or “Day 0”, just because the last two days collapsed to form a single looooong day. Wake up at home at 5AM, two hours earlier than the alarm clock, maybe my body was willing to try reducing the anticipated jet lag to come. Then leaving home at 7:30AM, my wife Marie-Noëlle driving me to the airport of Nice Côte d’Azur to catch a flight taking off at 9:30AM, for reaching my connection in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport for the flight to Seoul. This was a long but comfortable flight (thanks Air France !) landing in Seoul at 7:00 AM local time. So with a jet lag of 7 hours, this means landing in Seoul by midnight, France time: the night was short, very very short as I managed to only have a 2 hour long nap.
Immigration and customs went relatively fast in Seoul airport (JFK airport should learn from Korean best practices….), and I was warmly welcome by Joanne Fernance and Yongwhan Kim from Australian Business Volunteers. Then a 45 minute drive to reach the Conrad hotel where I received a room on the 28th floor.

At 1PM I met with Sebastian and Tony for a first joint immersion in the Korean atmosphere. We took the tube for visiting three places within Seoul. If I have something to remember, I would not quote a specific area or temple or palace, but rather three different “impressions” which, I believe, revealed some characteristics of the Korean population:

  1. Everything is clean. Weather you are on the streets, in the metro or in private buildings, you will not be able to find something dirty. Same remark for the way people are dressed: always with neat clothing, whatever the style or fashion they follow.
  2. Everybody is disciplined: nobody crosses the street if the traffic lamp is red for pedestrians, people are gently waiting in front of elevators or staircases, and the driving behavior is smooth.
  3. People are willing to help you. In two instances, one in the tube, the other in the street, when we were giving the feeling that we were somehow lost, somebody offered his/her assistance to help us finding our way. I never saw something similar in Western Europe or North America, where courtesy is really behind what we experienced in Seoul.

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