Cities around the world, including India where the first batch of Smart Cities has been announced, have to start working on strategies to deliver improved services, traffic management and to tackle environmental challenges.
Developing technologies and systems to create Smart Cities would pose challenges for people’s personal privacy that need to be addressed without stifling innovation.
Improving data privacy and data security that are critical issues in the development of Smart Cities will have to be given due thought.
Experts warn that authorities cannot take a “haphazard” approach to the development of networked technologies. They should not be allowed to continue without taking proper account of privacy challenges.
They say that Smart City projects generate large quantities of data about people and places, much of it in real-time and in a highly detailed form which calls for proper security and privacy precautions.
Smart city initiatives include centralised control rooms to manage transport and emergency services in real-time, passenger information displays at bus-stops and stations, smart meters and grids designed to create more sustainable energy consumption, compactor bins and high-definition CCTV that uses facial and automatic number plate recognition. There will be smartphone apps that track a user’s location.
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, data protection, and data security.
One way to address these challenges is to establish advisory boards and governance and ethics committees to oversee such Smart City projects. There should also be an emergency response team to tackle cyber security incidents, where data gets hacked or compromised.