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Data access and its risks: Concerns for future smart cities

April 28th, 2021

Data access and its risks: Concerns for future smart cities

April 28th, 2021

Although having and developing smart cities are useful and even can be considered as a necessity, many essentials must be done to bring safety and anti-espionage tools and expand the technology infrastructures.

Cities are looking for smart performance

It is said that governments are like laboratories of democracy because they have some abilities to test and execute new policy rules and ideas. As long as there are some States, such as California and Washington that have proven this based upon their approaches towards privacy and also on the other side, interesting experiments are happening in a smaller amount. For example, in towns or other different sections of a state. They are marked as smart or following developed devices and some other electronic facilities such as mobile phones, timepieces, and vehicles. Generally speaking, these forums have a manifold of functions and usages. A smart city is defined as a vast zone in which new technologies are used to gather precise information, developed functional algorithms, and in the end, security. Many associations with different ways of performing some sorts of smart technologies have extended the quality of their citizen’s lives in Jacksonville and Florida. For instance, they have constructed a whole innovated path that relies on the datum from hundreds of long-ranged sensors which have developed and made shipping and travel experiences easier. In other states like Detroit, we have put certain spots that people can have access to free wi-fi via their laptops or phones.

These kiosks in Detroit can help people in many ways. They can give you the nearest café, restaurant, public restrooms or give you some information about the places you have to visit as a tourist. It talks to you about the culture and dos and don’ts or helps you find any address on the map or any commercial towers and enterprises.   

In San Francisco, the mayor has placed smart dustbins all around the city so the dustbins can show people via a screen if they are full of trashes to prevent people from leaving their garbage there. They will notify the sweepers to come and unload the dustbins as well. As long as the demanded results from the improvements of smart cities, like decreasing the amount of waste, augmenting the effectiveness, and predicting and supporting the requirements of a people are common in many urban areas, the conclusions would be unprecedented. In these urban areas, the technology of connection such as the convenience of accessing wi-fi or being able to use 4G-5G networks is being improved so people will have a safer datum transformation with each other. Although the benefits of these technologies are a lot, we have to make sure that the city infrastructures and government regulations are advanced enough to prevent cyber stocking, hacking, or scamming.

Some concerns citizen may have about privacy and security     

One of the main problems of a smart city is that there is not a certain definition of it for everyone. If you ask people about it, they will probably give some general information about the internet, networks, or some kind of actions based on datum transformation. Some experts claim that ordinary people do not know what to expect from a smart city and they have no idea of their and the government’s responsibilities towards this manner. Lack of information and knowledge about smart cities and data usage can cause a high risk of being hacked or espionage.

Regards and prudence for the authorities of smart cities

Authorities can simply relieve people by telling them the purpose of collecting data from them. For example, they can explain that where their collected data is going to be used or how data collection would lead to a smarter and better city for all citizens. Although, remarkably, no private data is going to be stored anywhere for good, just the general ones such as your IP address. The public has no way of accessing these general data except relevant authorities and that would be by the Judge’s vote.

Even though smart cities might decide to collect more personal data from their citizens. For instance, by collecting personal data, websites can suggest you a book that sounds appropriate, or your navigation system can offer you a better root while using GPS or even as we can see nowadays different websites ask your permission to collect personal data to show you publications based on what you have liked before. Yet companies must ensure citizens that these personal data collections are temporary and it can be stopped whenever citizens are willing to and they should not collect peculiar data for themselves and break your privacy if you don’t permit it.

Anyway, smart cities must reduce the data collection from their citizens as much as they can. For example, when they don’t need all the particular data of certain people, they shouldn’t ask for it because it will have no use and on the other hand privacy of citizens must be respected under any condition.

According to research, almost 80 percent of Americans believe that the advantages of collecting data from citizens are less than its disadvantages and they are not optimistic and think that their privacy has been violated by the DNS or the government. As long as Americans have this attitude towards data collection, leaders and authorities must consider the effectiveness and the sustainability of having smart cities! Leaders must somehow convince people that their collected datum will not be misused or even-handed to a third party. 

Solution for problems

Authorities must provide certain spots in the town to keep people informed about the privacy policy of different devices and websites. They must augment the general knowledge of citizens if they should accept or deny the websites or applications demands. People must be helped if they have any questions about accepting Cookies and letting a variety of sites collect personal data. Also, citizens must be admonished at the moment when even a simple rule of the privacy policy is going to change.

Cities must provide free education for citizens and citizens must have interests in learning many things about innovative technology and intelligent cities. All this information should be accessible easily for the nation. Giving warnings and obtaining consent must be related to understanding and accounting for territorial tendencies on monitoring and data processing that may be associated with activities of an intelligent city. Furthermore, for adopting ethical frameworks due to data privacy, cities should consider some standardization in their attitudes towards privacy matters as well. For instance, a firm called The National Institute of Standards and Technology has created a collection of privacy controls that their usage is performing privacy essentials, which cities can utilize to ensure privacy security in their organization, machines, devices, and programs. The results will be indicated in a long term but it is worth doing all of them. 

Still, a national debate about the privacy policy of intelligent cities is growing among people but we can tell for sure that cities, citizens, and leaders are in a good situation and they can be optimistic that each day more people are going to be educated well enough to accept new technology without jeopardizing anybody’s privacy and on the other side, cities are going to develop their infrastructure to make it happen.

Keywords: data, Cities, people, privacy.

Article by: Amir Masoud Navidi

Adapted from an article by: Boozallen.




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