S. Korea to build ICT-based crowd management system this year
By Park Boram
SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- The government plans to establish an on-site crowd management system that uses public transportation or mobile network traffic information to monitor crowd density in efforts to prevent a repeat of last year's deadly crowd crush, officials said Tuesday.
The plan was part of a series of measures announced by the interior ministry to reform the country's national safety system in the wake of the crowd crush in Seoul's Itaewon neighborhood that killed 158 people on Oct. 29.
Under the plan, the envisioned ICT-based crowd management system will utilize floating population information, such as the number of public transportation users or the mobile network traffic volume at a certain location, to monitor crowd density.
CCTV analysis will also be utilized to supplement the monitoring, ministry officials said.
In the event of a dangerous situation, the system will notify the fire and police agencies and send text message alerts to residents.
By 2027, the government will replace all government-operated CCTVs with intelligent CCTVs to automatically monitor or detect emergency situations around the clock, such as overcrowding as well as wildfires or flooding.
The government also plans to have all local city, county and ward governments operate their own around-the-clock disaster situation rooms and launch a system allowing people to report emergency situations via video images on top of the current audio-based system.
To help foreigners more easily make emergency calls, the government will also launch an application within the first half of this year. The application will be serviced initially in four foreign languages, including English and Chinese, before being expanded.
Through a legal revision, the government will also include crowd-related accidents as a type of disaster regulated under the disaster and safety management act, the officials said.
The government is pushing to dramatically lower the annual death toll from disasters or safety accidents to below 20 per every 100,000 by 2027, officials said. Such deaths stood at 26.2 per every 100,000 people as of 2019 in South Korea, far higher than the average of 22.1 among the member nations of The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
"The Itaewon tragedy took place partly because overcrowding was not perceived as a type of disaster," Kim Sung-ho, the chief of the disaster control division at the ministry, said. "Through the overhauled national safety system, the government will stop another crowd crush from happening."
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