Smart cities need a smarter approach to security, report says

A new report in Ireland calls for a smart approach to smart cities.

The report, Getting smarter about smart cities: Improving data privacy and data security, says that cities around the world are seeking to use new networked technologies to address urban issues and improve quality of life. But the author, Professor Rob Kitchin of the Programmable City project at Maynooth University, argues that smart city strategies need to be smarter with respect to data privacy and security.

He said: “To date, the approach to privacy and security in the context of smart cities has been haphazard and uncoordinated. In many cases the issues are paid lip-service. I advocate a much more systematic approach that aims to gain the benefits smart city technologies offer, whilst minimising the potential risks.”

Launching the report, the Irish government pointed out that smart city technologies generate huge quantities of data about people and places, much of which is in real-time and in a highly detailed form.

“Never before has so much information about people — their characteristics, their location and movements, and their activities — been generated,” it said. While this data can be put to many good uses, it also raises issues with respect to data privacy, data protection and data security.

The suggested policy and regulatory response includes a revised set of fair information principles to underpin privacy laws, accompanied by the adoption of privacy-by-design and security-by-design, which build privacy and security into the design of new technologies from their inception to actively protect citizens, rather than trying to deal with these issues post-development.

The report also recommends education and training programmes aimed at the general public, school children, local authority staff, and companies.

Dara Murphy TD, Ireland’s Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, commented: “We would all like cities to be as smart as possible and to use new technologies for the greater good. However, as a society, and as individuals, we also have to think about the privacy and security questions they raise. This report details the privacy and data security implications of smart cities, but importantly also suggests a number of measures to tackle them.”

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