19 Jul 2024

Success for smart city projects

Axis new whitepaper reasons that success in smart city projects is dependent on how much citizens are prepared to trust the presence of technology, the collection of data and privacy of information.]

Axis Communications, has announced it has released a whitepaper to bring attention to the many benefits afforded by the modern smart city that is being hampered by significant barriers to development.

The company says research has suggested that 63% of people find the way connected devices collect data about people and their behaviours ‘creepy’[1]. These very same people are those that must be convinced of the benefits and assured of the safety of data collected in a smart city environment.

Improved waste reduction, better public transport services and even lighting and heating efficiencies are some of the benefits of the smart city made possible through the utilisation of devices and sensors, and the data they collect. Yet such optimisation of resources, Axis reasons, is only achievable when privacy impact assessments are carried out at the right time for them to be effective, and a reassured general public can more confidently understand the need to process and draw insights from collected data.

James Willison, Founder, Unified Security, and whitepaper co-author explains: “The benefits of Smart Cities have long been recognised by all key stakeholders, but the greatest and most important stakeholders are wary of smart city authorities and technology providers not only collecting and holding data about them but connecting it with other data they already hold.”

This is a process which will require service providers to do everything in their power to create an environment of inherent trust, strong privacy, and ethical behaviour by default. The way smart city projects are planned needs to change with privacy and data protection considered from the outset.

Sarb Sembhi, CTO, Virtually Informed, and fellow whitepaper co-author adds: “Effective privacy and good ethics lead to greater trust from citizens, thus contributing to their overall happiness. Smart city authorities can demonstrate this element of trust, and showcase citizen happiness. We outline the key risks and best practises to achieve success.”

With trust playing a critical role in how people interact with their environment, smart city project planners must address the way in which the use of data is communicated, ensuring full transparency. The use of technology and analysis of data can only be successful when citizens trust the technology around them and can be sure of its purpose. This leads to important ethical considerations around the collection, analysis and processing of information.

Steven Kenny, Industry Liaison, Architecture & Engineering at Axis Communications comments: “To engender trust in a smart city, its data must never be collected or stored without good reason, and connections between data collected and personal identity made only when necessary. Building systems now based on this philosophy not only helps improve citizen trust, but it also theoretically makes the transition to potential new privacy rules easier.”

Trust must be earned not only by those constructing the broad systems that unite a smart city but by those that provide the individual elements of a smart city’s infrastructure. Vendors have a double duty in that they must equally work to reassure citizens as well as local governments. Both entities need to know that their privacy concerns are being met, and smart-city constructors require secure hardware that will last both in a physical and logical sense.

Kenny continues: “Ethics, privacy, and trust must be the core tenets of any smart city project. These are the convincers that will bring citizens on board. Once the infrastructure is in place and the benefits of smart cities truly come to light, people may wonder how they ever managed without access to live data, without cleaner air and clearer streets, without the predictive models which offer them access to everything they need.”

[1] https://www.internetsociety.org/resources/doc/2019/trust-opportunity-exploring-consumer-attitudes-to-iot/

Company info: Axis Communications