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Data Dam project begins, being key to Digital New Deal (Sep. 2)


- 7 subprojects of Data Dam project with largest-scale participation (4,793 applicants including companies and institutes), selecting 2,103 institutes to receive support from the supplementary budget of 2020 (KRW 499.1B)
- Data Dam project takes first step of its 5-year journey to pursue job creation, future investment, and innovation by area simultaneously, with heated response from top Korean companies
- Timeline presented for building legal and institutional framework for AI data standardization and quality management, expansion of internet-based resource sharing (cloud) services in public sector, and improvement of AI laws and institution

The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) announced on September 2 that it will complete the selection of major companies to conduct seven key projects of the Data Dam project, announced in July as the representative task of the Digital New Deal, and push forward with it in earnest.

In addition to jobs and economic revitalization brought about by the construction of the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression, the seven core projects of the "Data Dam" are designed to simultaneously promote investment for our future and innovation in each sector.

- 7 projects include building data for AI training, AI voucher, AI data processing voucher, AI convergence (AI+X), cloud flagship, cloud use voucher, and establishment of big data platforms and centers.

Ⅰ. Background and progress

The "Data Dam" is a project to collect data generated through public and private networks and to standardize, process and utilize the data to create smarter artificial intelligence and to create jobs through innovation in existing industries and development of innovative services, as stated by Korean President Moon Jae-in during his visit to digital economy sites on June 18 (to Douzone Bizonin Chuncheon City). There are seven specific projects, encompassing related areas and closely connected to each other.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the foundation has been laid out through the analysis of policy for job creation and economic revitalization and consultation with major countries. The specific projects were developed during the process of finalizing the Digital New Deal projects and went through procedures such as the supplementary budget finalization (July 4), public announcement (July 10), and application and evaluation (August).

Despite the short period, a total of 2,103 institutions became the winners to receive support under the name of the Digital Dam project out of 4,739 applicants of companies and institutes. This is the largest number of applicants in such projects that opened the door for related ministries and public institutes, along with companies at the center.

Ⅱ. Major Characteristics

1. More jobs expected to be created than initial forecast

The projects included in the Korean version of the New Deal were expected to create about 24,000 jobs in 2020, using the supplementary budget.
- Participating companies of the key project, "Data Accumulation Project to Train Artificial Intelligence," have proposed about 28,000 jobs through direct employment and crowdsourcing. It is expected that the number of the entire jobs to be created will exceed the initial forecast through additional adjustments in the projects.

2. Strong spillover effect appears as convergence with other areas is being accelerated

The AI Data Voucher Project links companies on both demand and supply sides. The ratio of non-ICT firms on the demand side has jumped from 41.2% in 2019 to 84.8% in the 2020 supplementary budget project. This shows that the spillover of AI and data services is taking place across the board in earnest.

3. Expectations to boost competitiveness of Korean industries, encompassing promising companies in major areas

Most of Korea's leading crowdsourcing companies, cloud providers, AI and data solution providers and software makers applied for the supplementary budget project and have been successful applicants. Also, companies and institutes in various sectors from healthcare, manufacturing, to logistics are participating, bringing expectations to boost competitiveness across industries and promote innovation-led growth.

4. Ministries and public institutes to actively take part, positioning Data Dam as pan-government project

In the process of identifying demand and reviewing eligible businesses, 16 government ministries and some 20 special institutes have cooperated and even local governments from Daejeon, Sejong, Gwangju, Changwon, and Jeju Cities have actively participated. (Ministry of Education, Ministry of the Interior and Safety, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, Ministry of SMEs and Startups, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Ministry of Employment and Labor, and Financial Services Commission)

Ⅲ. Major details by specific project

1. Data accumulation project to train AI

It is the most basic and key project of the Data Dam, to accumulate and open ( data to train AI on a large scale, which is essential for the development of AI services and is expected to create a host of jobs in the process of collecting, processing, refining, and quality verification of massive amounts of data.

2. AI Voucher Project

This project provides "AI Vouchers" to SMEs and venture companies in various fields to introduce AI in their products and services to improve productivity and competitiveness (up to 0.3 billion Korean won per company)
- This project encourages companies that want to adopt AI (on the demand side) ('demand company') to purchase products from companies that provide AI solutions and services by using vouchers so that they can introduce optimal AI in a short period of time, and provide opportunities to create new markets for SMEs developing AI solutions or services.

3. AI data processing voucher support project

This project to support the development of innovative AI services by converting data held by SMEs and startups into data for AI training. The project supports companies that need data for AI training to receive processing services from their suppliers when they apply for vouchers.

4. AI convergence project

This project supports safe training of AI using data collected and accumulated in various areas and AI development and application. Through this, the project paves ways to upgrade the algorithm and provides early-stage business opportunities for AI companies and promotes innovation across the board at the same time.
- In 2020, a total of eight subprojects will be pushed forward, especially in areas that have greater economic ripple effects and bring tangible progress such as healthcare, national defense, energy, and facility management.
* ① Support for military healthcare ② Infectious disease response ③ Coast guard ④ Efficient energy management in industrial complex ⑤ Detection of illegal copies ⑥ Innovation of specialized industries by region ⑦ Securement of public safety ⑧ Management of underground utility tunnels

5. Cloud flagship project

As one of the core tasks of the "Cloud Industry Development Strategy" (June 2020), this project supports the development of integrated cloud service platforms and services by selecting industrial sectors that need to ensure continuity and competitiveness.
- More than 10 cloud service providers, especially around cloud infrastructure companies, are working together to develop globally competitive cloud services.

6. Cloud use voucher project

This project is also one of the key tasks of the "Cloud Industry Development Strategy" (laid out by Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution in June 2020), a revised version of the "project to expand cloud services for SMEs" that supported costs of cloud services.
- By pushing forward with digital transition of SMEs to adopt cloud-based working environments, the projects comprehensively support costs of cloud consulting, switching, and usage to improve the management environment and to ensure business continuity in contactless situations.

7. Establishment of big data platforms and centers

This project is one of the key projects of the Data Dam to innovate the Korean data ecosystem and improve competitiveness of companies by producing and allowing access to high-quality data with much potential to be utilized through public-private cooperation.
- In the supplementary budget, 40.5 billion Korean won is earmarked to build five platforms and 50 centers that collect, analyze, and distribute data in key areas.
- It is expected that the supply of high-quality data will continue to be expanded to the Data Dam, when five big data platforms are newly created within 2020, along with 10 platforms created in 2019.
- This project will also be linked to the data map ( launched in March so that citizens can easily search and utilize data.
* Finance, environment, culture, transportation, healthcare, distribution, telecommunications, SMEs, local economy, forest

Ⅳ. Future plans (follow-up measures)

1. Data standardization and enhancement of quality control system

In order to secure interoperability between data, the Korean government will also push for standardization. Firstly, the government will introduce the "common guidelines for data accumulation," already developed and supplemented (at the end of August) to the projects supported by the supplementary budget and develop "data standards for AI training" for major industries such as autonomous driving and healthcare so that standards will be established for key areas through consultation with related ministries and lead to international standardization results.

In order to build accumulate quality data, the government plans to greatly enhance the quality control system, by introducing quality control guidelines, quantitative quality assessment indicators, and a quality assessment advisory group involving companies using the data and by utilizing specialized organizations for quality assessment (Korea Association for ICT Promotion).
- Given the nature of the project of accumulating massive amounts of data, there are structural limitations to carry out perfect quality verification at the accumulation stage. Therefore, the government plans to continuously conduct supplementary and maintenance work through quality assessment including the data already collected from 2017 to 2019.

In addition, the Korean government will outsource research on how to promote big data exchanges and develop guidelines on data transaction principles and standards that include data pricing and quality evaluation methods.

2. Introduction of system specialized in digital services such as cloud services

The government plans to implement a "digital service specialized contract system" within October 2020, to improve the contract system from the "announcement-bidding-contract" method to the "service search-use" method to facilitate public procurement of digital services* including private clouds.
* Cloud services and new technologies (AI, blockchain, IoT, etc.) combined with cloud services, etc.

Besides, the MSIT will create a committee specialized for digital services to select digital services that can be contracted and used by demand-side agencies following the specialized contract tracks. The Ministry also plans to establish and operate a specialized distribution platform to support the entire process from registration of selected digital services to contract signing.

3. Improvement of legal framework on AI and establishment of ethical standards

The Korean government plans to present a roadmap for improvement of the legal system on AI by comprehensively addressing regulatory issues to respond to paradigm shifts caused by AI across economy and society (tentatively scheduled in Nov 2020). Also, as the Framework Act on National Informatization is to take effect in December 2020, the laws and regulations will be established and the Korean version of AI ethical standards will be developed after going through the comparative analysis of AI ethical standards of other major economies and international organizations.

"I appreciate high levels of interest and active participation of companies, universities, and local governments, regarding the Data Dam project using the supplementary budget despite a short period of time," said Minister of Science and ICT Choi Ki-young.

"As private investment and participation is more critical than any other factors besides the government's efforts, we will pursue building the legal and institutional infrastructure and also run a digital new deal group (group leader: Minister of Science and ICT) to closely cooperate with related ministries, in order to ensure that Data Dam project will smoothly be completed without a hitch," added Minister Choi.

For further information, please contact Secretary Lee Sangkuk(, Deputy Director Lee Howoong(, Choi Jieun(, Lee woonkyu(, Choi Insoo(, Lee Sangmin( or Assistant director Cho Chanyoung( of the Ministry of Science and ICT.