Councils need to do more to allay public fears over smart city technology, survey shows

Councils in the UK still have a little way to go in convincing people of the value in investing smart city technology, with concerns lingering about the implications for their personal data, according to a new survey.

Two-thirds (67%) of the public do not believe that investment in smart cities is a good use of public funds, while a similar amount (69%) raised concern about having their personal data on a smart city system.

However, just one in ten of the 2,030 respondents in Broadband Genie’s survey said they were aware of the UK’s smart city initiatives, suggesting the public has little knowledge of what efforts are being made to secure smart city systems.

Rob Hilborn, Broadband Genie’s head of strategy, believes it’s in councils’ interest to ensure that the public is made aware of what they seek to gain from smart technologies.

He said: “Smart technologies clearly have a big part to play in the future of UK cities, and are set to have a positive impact on many citizens, homes and businesses.

“However, it’s important we don’t overlook the security and privacy concerns surrounding this technology, especially given the increasing risk of attacks to infrastructure. Councils and government are going to need to get the public on board with this technology for it to be truly successful in the long term.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, which won a £24 million award from the UK Government for the Future Cities Demonstrator project, explained that it uses data “to make the lives of our residents, businesses and visitors easier and simpler”.

However, Cesar Cerrudo, chief technology officer at information security company IOActive, warned councils against implementing smart technologies that have not undergone strict security testing, stressing that “threats are very real”.

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