Cities 4.0: Privacy in the Age of Smart Cities

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Smart City is essentially about the use of technology within cities for social good, sustainability, resilience and equity which can be found in the framework for building smart cities. However, much more can be achieved when privacy emerges as a topic of opportunity as well. Smart Cities initiatives are fundamentally about tapping onto the data of the urban landscape and citizens, including personal information to enhance the standards of living. Nonetheless, privacy concerns in relation to these initiatives can be real and/or measurable and thus be deemed as a worry within the community.

As such, privacy officers can help to both identify these concerns and coordinate targeted information privacy programmes in cities in order to address them. There are several initiatives that breach privacy rights of citizens. These include (1) facial recognition areas in public (2) free wi-fi (3)  RFID tag on items in libraries and public facilities (4) body-worn cameras for municipal officers (5) mobile phone apps that connect users to city services (5) drones.

Further, an area of concern in the Smart Cities context is the lack of focus on Privacy by Design principles. This refers to the conceptualisation of privacy into functionalities and platforms from the outset rather than attempting to fixing privacy holes when they arise in the future. A strong privacy focus provides better quality control and vendor management will become critical to ensure data security and data breach notification expectations, as well as maintaining public confidence that their personal information will not be misused.

Another critical area of privacy risk is the management of citizen access and/or amendment of their own personal information. At present, citizens rights may have become obscure in the Smart Cities context, particularly due to the presence of an ever growing attempt to access personal information regardless of its accountability as capital. The old-school views about privacy may no longer align with the perceptions of modern generation’s approach privacy. Therefore, it is time for the implementation of privacy and examine a new approach towards the balancing of technology and citizen rights.

Source: LinkedIn

Participate in the upcoming QS in conversation – “University-Public Sector Partnerships: Smart Cities” which will be held from 3-5 October 2018 in Singapore.