The concept of Smart Cities should have three fundamental ideas, according to urban planners.
First, the physical infrastructure should be able to more efficiently use as data analytics and artificial intelligence progress.
Second, there should be engagement of the urban population with the city administration. This can be achieved through e-participation – or the carrying out of civic duties through the internet.
Third, as technology continues to progress, computer systems will learn and adapt to challenges autonomously.
The benefits of and opportunities presented by Smart Cities – for both citizens and businesses – are broad-ranging. With proper implementation, Smart Cities will provide tremendous economic, social and cultural advantages for their inhabitants.
For instance, a city’s electricity infrastructure could be significantly improved with the introduction of technologies such as ‘smart meters’ – electric or gas meters that provide real-time data, via an internet connection, to the consumer and the electricity company regarding each user’s consumption.
This allows better management of electricity supplies by tailoring them to the live demand, thereby reducing overall cost as well as the impact and incidence of power outages.
Smart Cities are dependent on machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions and decision-making. This is, in part, a product of the sheer number of inputs and the frequency and speed with which associated calculations need to be completed.
In the case of the energy grid, it would be impossible for a human operator to process all the data necessary to make decisions at the speed required by the system. However, while M2M decision-making (M2MD) is an unavoidable and beneficial feature of Smart Cities, it is also one of the greatest risks.
M2MD is a highly promising means of ensuring efficient automation across Smart Cities. However, given the absence of human operators, the risk of a cascading error is significant.
Smart Cities could also be a target for cyber threats that could damage millions of interconnected devices. Criminals could hijack these systems for ransom in extortion attacks.
In this context incident response will become increasingly important and the government will have to put in place highly complex pre-planned incident response schemes involving multiple parties.