Smart Cities – Trends, Benefits, and Privacy Concerns



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In this decade, we have witnessed several economic and technological advancements, which begs cities to hustle towards becoming a “smart city.” To achieve this, city administrators go to various lengths to modernize their city and keep it up to date with best practices. The idea of what a smart city is might be communal, but a clear definition of what it is, would set the record straight and give everyone a clearer picture of a smart city.

In simple terms, a smart city harnesses the latest technologies at its disposal to address fundamental societal issues such as waste disposal, neighborhood security, transportation, greener environment, urban planning, etc.

Top 3 Trends in 2021 and Beyond

All that, explained below, are some of the top trends taking cities by storm in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Effective Transportation: In metro cities, traffic is one of the significant challenges that residents face day-in, day-out. To improve citizens’ lives, smart cities use Information Systems to collect vehicular and traffic data from different modes of transport.

These data provide insights into how private vehicles’ use can be reduced by either introducing new modes of transportation or upgrading the existing ones.

 

  1. Greener Society: The extreme weather conditions and wildfires forced world leaders to take global warming seriously. Increased funding has been allocated to clean energy projects to cut down on carbon emission to check this environmental menace. In some countries, incentives are provided for citizens who consume less energy. These energy-saving actions are achievable through the use of the Internet of Things (IoT).

 3. Safer Cities: With the proliferation of internet connectivity and IoT in cities, CCTV cameras can be used in cities to provide safety for the residents and improve response time from first responders and security agencies. These cameras are also equipped with several new features like thermal vision and facial recognition technology to operate better in harsh weather conditions, complete darkness and still transmit valuable data.

Data Privacy in Smart Cities

Despite the apparent benefits of smart cities, the knowledge that personal data is needed to drive these systems – is a source of concern for many. In a report drafted by the United States Federal Trade Commission, it is said that about 10,000 households can produce over 150 million distinct data sets every passing day.

If not appropriately and legally managed, these kinds of data could fall into the wrong hands and lead to a privacy breach. Given the significance of digital identities today, a lot of people look to guard theirs carefully.

Keeping your Personal Data Safe

Amidst all the deliberate and unintentional handing out of personal data, below are some ways by which personal data could be kept secure:

  • Ensure Account Security: Different methods, including the use of strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and different email for personal and official use, will go a long way in keeping your accounts secure. If possible, use temporary emails for promotional accounts.

 

  • Use a VPN: Many do not know that they can use a VPN to ensure privacy, apart from accessing geo-restricted content. A VPN does not only help mask IP addresses, it also encrypts data as it is sent through the connecting network to its destination. This protects your activity from being spied on by the ISP, or the government if you use government-funded public Wi-Fi networks.

At this point, only a holistic approach can provide a solution for the problems we have caused by designing cities for technologies and not the other way round.

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