By Brad Smith
Currently, 55 percent of the entire world’s population lives in urban centers, and this proportion is expected to move to 68 percent by 2050. While increased population comes with advantages such as the expansion of the tax base, upsurge in consumer spending at neighborhood businesses, and increased labor force, it causes a big strain on resources and the environment.
With the number of interconnected devices becoming more and more every day, the IoT technology can help us mitigate the negative results of urban migration through smart city technology. Let’s look at some of the worldwide smart city trends and their benefits.
As the population grows, urban areas are faced with high traffic jams and overloaded public transport. Smart cities come to lessen these woes by employing data collected from street sensors, automated license-plate readers, cameras, smartphones, and even drones or satellites to improve the use of roads. The information can be utilized in various ways including warning motorists of possible traffic jams and suggesting alternative routes.
Smart Waste Management
Apart from transport issues, waste management problems are also rampant in large urban areas. The more the people living in a confined location, the more the waste produced. If not managed properly, this can lead to high pollution levels and the accumulation of dirt and garbage, which may result in significant health implications for citizens.
Smart waste management could help alleviate this mess. Smart city solutions consist of smart trash cans that can sense garbage volume and odors and alert waste management authorities when the trash is ready to be picked up. This not only prevents trash build-up but also helps city officials to plan their time well.
Improved Public safety
Smart city technologies such as facial recognition, CCTV and traffic cameras, gunshot monitors, and police body cameras can help improve public safety. Many of these technologies involve tracking and crime projection, helping authorities to avert and prevent illegal schemes. They also make investigations easier.
Smart Cities Privacy Concerns
For smart city technologies to work, there is a need for massive data collection and analysis. This is not a big deal; the problem comes when the data collected is not used for the intended purpose, raising possible privacy concerns for citizens.
Apart from the fear of constant surveillance by the government, these data can be stolen by hackers who may take advantage of the interconnected technology to instigate attacks, leaving citizens devastated.
If smart city projects are not evaluated beforehand and these privacy concerns addressed, our citizens could face devastating consequences, from living in fear of being watched like the Xinjiang residents to mass disruption of services.
How Citizens can Stay Safe
Smart cities have numerous advantages, but we cannot refute the privacy concerns raised by citizens. Besides, a smart city breach could cause devastating effects on the residents. That is why it is important to include cybersecurity standards, technology, and operations in the portfolio from the start of the project.
Endpoint security should particularly be taken seriously since these cities depend highly on connected devices like cameras, lights, and sensors. An attack on one device could lead to an attack on the entire network.
Besides taking the necessary cybersecurity measures during project implementation, governments and corporations ought to be clear on the amount of data they intend to collect and how they plan on using it.
As a citizen, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your privacy is intact even as you enjoy all the benefits that come with a smart city. Downloading a VPN app to stay private especially when using public wi-fi networks is a good way to start. A VPN gives you anonymity by encrypting your internet flow and hiding your IP address so that the government and third parties won’t be able to see whatever you are doing online.
The privacy risks that come with having a smart city shouldn’t deviate us from adopting this life-changing technology. We just need to emphasize the importance of cybersecurity in all smart city projects and we will be able to enjoy all these advantages without fear.
Brad Smith is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN, a non-profit promoting a safe and free internet for all. He writes about his dream for a free internet and unravels the horror behind big techs.