The GiGA Island project first began on Imja-do Island, one of the many islands that surrounds the Korean Peninsula. With no bridge to link Imja-do Island to the mainland, the round trip from Imja-do Island to nearby city takes at least four hours. The GiGA network has helped to overcome this hurdle with a ‘virtual bridge’, which transformed the overall quality of life on the island.
Around 3,000 people live in Imja-do, mostly elderly people and young children – as the young adults have left the island to go and work in the city. The island’s economy revolves around agriculture, with 70% of the population working in farming.
Thanks to the GiGA network, farmers can now check on their crops’ condition remotely in real-time and activate irrigation or mechanisms that can provide shade for the crop. This increases productivity, and reduces the labour burden on older farmers. It also means that older members of the family can travel to Mokpo, the city 70km away, where their children live and work – and still maintain their crops.
The Giga project also provides courses to teach IT skills on the island, showing people how to use the mobile technology and how to create blogs to sell their products to the mainland. Broadband connectivity has also advanced healthcare for the elderly, with the introduction of the JODOK – a machine that analyses patient samples and transmits the results to mainland hospitals.
For children Giga Island has enabled language lessons through tablets and mobile phones as well as ‘virtual exchanges’ with people from other countries – with an aim to work towards a more integrated society.