South Korea's Songdo is dubbed the "world's smartest city," complete with an efficient trash system of pneumatic tubes send trash straight from homes to an underground waste facility, an abundance of parks, smart home features to control lights and appliances, as well as a vibrant international community, says CityLab writer Linda Poon.

Songdo’s buildings and streets bristle with sensors that monitor everything from energy use to traffic flow, all with an eye toward sustainability. The district has over 20 million square feet of LEED-certified space—“the highest concentration of LEED-certified projects in the world,” according to its developers, and 40 percent of all such space in South Korea. There’s a state-of-the-art water-recycling facility and generous swaths of greenery sprinkled throughout—the biggest one being the 100-acre seaside park modeled and named after New York City’s Central Park.

But, the city doesn't have enough people living in it, and its residents have trouble connecting with those around them.

“I had expected this city to be like Singapore and Hong Kong, where there are many foreigners, but that has not been the case,” 45-year-old Paik Dae-Il, who’s lived in Songdo for the last 10 years and works in the hotel industry, tells CityLab through an interpreter. “Projects for big offices often get canceled. Instead, it’s been apartments, apartments, apartments.”

32-year-old Lindy Wenselaers, an expat from Belgium who’s lived in Songdo for over a year, lives outside the IBD, on campus housing provided by her employer, Ghent University. Her apartment is pretty basic, but she marvels at a friend’s apartment in a different neighborhood. It has elevators that talk to the garage, so when she keys in a code at the entrance, it immediately signals the system to send an elevator down. “Pretty nifty,” she gushes. The high-tech amenities, however, haven’t helped her connect with other people. She laments the lack of direct connections from one part of town to another; on weekends, she often drives an hour to Seoul.

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