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The internet of (knowing too many) things (about you)

10 Feb 2016
Rob Kitchin

Time to get wise on data security in cities and appoint ethics committees and emergency cybersecurity teams, says new report 

By Eanna Kelly

Creating “smart cities” poses risks for people’s personal privacy that need to be addressed without suffocating innovation, a new report says.

It says that while the promises of future cities are “alluring and there is no doubt that [new] technologies help to create cities that are more efficient and competitive”, they also raise a number of concerns and risks. 

Cities are being flooded with a multitude of fancy new technologies. There’s new-fangled city operating systems, control rooms, dashboards, intelligent transport systems, integrated travel ticketing, bike share schemes, real-time passenger displays, smart energy grids, controllable lighting, smart meters, sensor networks and an array of smartphone apps and sharing economy platforms.

“Never before has so much information about people – their characteristics, their location and movements, and their activities – been generated. These data can be put to many good uses, but they also raise a number of issues with respect to data privacy, protection, and security,” the report says.

Efforts to date to coordinate these new systems and services have been “haphazard”, says Kitchin. 

“In many cases, the issues are paid lip service. I advocate a much more systematic approach that aims to gain the benefits smart city technologies offer, whilst minimising the potential risks,” he said. 

He recommends setting up advisory boards and ethics committees to oversee new smart city projects. An emergency response team should also be appointed to tackle cybersecurity breaches.

However, the report also cautions against becoming “overly focused” on negative aspects of smart city projects, lest creativity and enterprise are stifled. 

To see the full report click here

 

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