A smart city is pretty much an urban region that makes use of information and communication technology, with electronic sensors to optimize efficiency, collect data, share information, and better the services rendered by the government and the lives of the citizens. There are several smart cities in the world, with the 5 most prominent being New York City, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore.
All the previously listed cities make use of technology to better the lives of its inhabitants by means of the following:
Traffic management – a method that involves supplying CCTV cameras, working traffic lights and smart street lights on the roads for traffic monitoring and control. Traffic management would also include the supplication of better railway and bus systems to increase and improve travel experience.
Energy and Resource Management – by making use of renewable energy sources like hydroelectricity, wind turbines, and recycling of biodegradable materials to create a safe and eco-friendly atmosphere.
E-government – which involves the provision of more public services to the people, allowing for better accountability, openness, and involvement of the people in terms of contributing and sharing opinions; which will be possible through city-wide Wi-Fi.
The provision of these forms of technological intervention and their impact can only be measured through data collection and analysis. It is crucial to determine the short and long-term effects of technology on the lives of the citizens, as well as to conduct a survey to determine how the people are responding to these inventions in terms of their usage, efficiency, and what areas need to be improved upon.
Privacy Concerns with respect to Data Collection
To effectively collect the data required for these purposes, the government would need a myriad of data which are often collected from CCTV feeds, public repositories and as reported by Edward Snowden, cellphones and Internet activity of citizens. These data are to train models and AI programs which drives the smart technologies in every city.
Snooping into the personal data of people is a blatant infringement of their privacy and personal space. This makes people uneasy, knowing that they are constantly being monitored by the government or their data could be exposed and traded in the case of a security breach by cybercriminals.
The Future of Smart Cities
When the future of smart cities is in contention, technology and infrastructure are usually the most mentioned aspects in which considerable development will be made.
- Security: To further strengthen the security of the city, listening devices that are sensitive to gunshots have been in the talks for creation and implementation. The technology is to listen round the clock, but will also be programmed to delete after every 5 or 7 seconds if there is no gunshot recorded. This way, the health officials will be alerted as soon as someone has been shot to get there on time, and the previous non-deleted seconds will help law enforcement officials in investigations.
- Transportation: This is also an area in which several improvements will be made. The development of several trains moving at hyper-speed has begun to improve efficiency in transportation in Dubai and should be completed over the next two years. Flying cars have now become a possibility as well, developed in Japan, and the first few models will be released before 2025.
- Data Security: Security of the people is also put into consideration, with plans being made to fully encrypt and redact personal information in the government database that will remain secured in a case of system shutdown due to overload or security breach. CCTVs should also be installed with small backups in case the original lens is destroyed or covered before a criminal activity.
Before then, people should also take precautions to protect themselves, such as using a VPN for privacy especially while making use of public Wi-Fi, to ensure that they are not being tracked or being hacked by cybercriminals.
The application of technological processes to the functions in a city is the way forward. The government should do better in reassuring citizens of their protection from dangers while implementing these processes.
Matthew Stern is a technology content strategist at TechFools, a tech blog aiming at informing readers about the potential dangers of technology and introducing them to the best ways to protect themselves online.
As a tech enthusiast and an advocate for digital freedom, Matthew is dedicated to introducing his readers to the latest technology trends and teaching them how to gain control over their digital lives.