Even, How smart you are? And how smart your phone is? Are difficult to answer. How smart your whole city is? It will be pretty more difficult to answer it as long as you have set basic requirements for being a Smart City. Smart cities influence Technology to serve people. They start with an information network, designed to optimize resources and thereby promoting sound and sustainable development.
Assisted by big data, the Internet of things will brave new world or rather a surveillance nightmare. What can smart cities look like? and do we really want to live there?
Our topic today on shift more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and this number is steadily rising resulting in enormous challenges like:
- More people
- More traffic
- More pollution
- More energy consumption
- More water usage
- More waste and more…
Smart cities are supposed to help and cope with these problems. Projects are popping up everywhere for instance in Nigeria, South Korea, India, or Malaysia. A livable city that can think for itself, how does this thing work like this?
Smart city as imagined by tech companies and urban planners’
How a smart city will look like:
- Regular streetlights are replaced by smart poles, which connect to other Internet of Things, devices and provide broadband.
- A person can easily know the real-time parking space so that he or she won’t have to drive around for very long.
- A handicapped person can use specific lightning to cross the road safely.
- Thanks to driverless cars, accidents will hardly ever happen.
- If you are using an electric vehicle, you will know where to find available charging stations to plug your car in as soon as you need to
- In this future city, drones and robots will supply goods and even coffee.
- Companies in Waste collection will know about the status of the containers in real-time.
- Salad grows underground at the urban farm.
- Weather sensors will be able to manage automatic watering systems and detect leaks.
- Other sensors can also provide updates on air pollution, noise, and River level (To prevent Floods)
- No need to read water or electricity meters, Consumption figures will be available in real-time. This also saves resources.
- If an accident occurs, An Alert goes out immediately. And Remote monitoring provides an instant update on the situation.
- Drivers can receive warnings on their GPS and on connected road signs.
- Firefighters on duty can be assisted by the control center, and tech helps to find and correct system errors, to prevent damage before it happens.
- Connected Streets provide a full suite of applications like Smart lightning Connected charging stations, Environment stations, Park assistance, Video management, automatic watering, Transport and mobility, Wi-Fi or li-fi connections, Public toilets, remote metering’s, Equipment accessibility and so on.
Sounds fantastic, but for these ideas to become reality, technical preconditions are essential. A central role Falls to the new mobile communication standard 5g. It’s the engine for the Internet of Things and enables interconnected infrastructures on a grand scale.
That’s the starting point and we can begin designing a smart city based on those demands. Imagine you’re the mayor of a city and want to turn it into a smart city you’d have to consider the following
- First you need to make your city interconnected by adding sensors that collect data.
The smart city is typically a mix of the different urban systems we have. For the most part that means Mobility Systems, housing systems, administrative systems, energy systems, education systems, and so on. Collect data from all the systems.
- Anything affecting your citizens in their everyday lives can be assigned to a digital Shadow. To build a smart city you must do three things to find a solution for the citizens:
- connect devices
- collect data and
- assess this data
But how do I benefit from the smart city, here are some answers:
Examples of the smart city Projects happened in some part of the world
- In Santander, Spain
The city saves taxes by using resources more efficiently with the help of sensors. Public spaces are only irrigated when they’re too dry. Garbage bins are only emptied once they’re full.
- In Helsinki, Finland
Garbage trucks become obsolete and the waste is transferred without noise or pollution to underground collection points.
- In Rio de Janeiro
a smartphone app is enabling residents to shape their surroundings. The app “smart favela” creates a three-dimensional avatar of the shantytowns when city planners come up with new ideas. These can be looked at on the app, and then citizens can vote on them.
- In Palo Alto, US
Parking lots now have sensors, these notify citizens whenever a parking space is free. The city’s traffic is constantly recorded.
- In Dubai, UAE
Smart robot-cops are supposed to make Dubai safer. The police robots are equipped with cameras and can find persons through facial recognition. Tech reports can be filed on a touchpad
- In Rehoboth, Ukraine
Citizens can view the incomes of civil servants, and check on how politicians have voted in the City Council. City owned businesses lay bare their accounts using open data, in the fight against corruption.
- In Darmstadt Germany
Interconnected sensors assess the air quality, and send this information to a data center. Which analyzes air pollution and if necessary, reports bad air quality.
Who will ensure your data security?
In order for these systems to work, vast amounts of data on all citizens are required. But who ensures that the data is safe and who has access to it? Different solutions exist.
Data is essential for a smart city it provides the basis for designing intelligent applications for the city. But what about data protection?
- To be clear, in a smart city there is no protection from data being collected. But, on the other hand, it is exactly this data, that provides the basis for implementing and controlling the city system. As a result, very careful and cautious decisions need to be made regarding how the data is handled.
- If the city itself controls data, this can be advantageous when it comes to data protection. However, most cities lack the technological skills needed to process and analyze the data. For this reason, many cities cooperate with big tech companies, who have the capacity and the algorithms needed to work with data masses.
- Like, Google sidewalk laboratories belong to the alphabet company, they will of course, create a whole district of Toronto with the new technology, but data sovereignty remains with them. This is problematic as they can use our data to make money in the entire city-state and naturally offers many opportunities.
Also Read: How Satellite TV system works?
Data utility company can be a solution
So, what to do, experts argue for so-called data utility organizations, these are publicly financed but independent organizations. They manage access to data whichever is interested in process and control. They could be used to develop smart city solutions, regardless of whether the town-owned a local startup business or a big tech company.
A promising approach that I think everyone should be able to take advantage of, farm data in data services, personal data is anonymized. As a citizen I can’t influence which mine data is being used. Though decoding a project by the European Union goes even further, it aims to empower individuals to control their data.
Citizens themselves should decide, whether personal information stays private or if it’s being shared in order to make the city smarter. Pilot projects have been running in Amsterdam and Barcelona since 2018, we believe that data should be understood as a public infrastructure as a common good like water like electricity like transportation like the air we breathe.
They also believe that citizens can responsibly deal with their own data. A desirable goal citizen should be in charge of their own data. Once private corporations or governments control data in the smart City, where do you draw the line when it comes to surveillance?
Another major problem: Cyber-attack becomes easier and extremely violent:
Smart streetlamps parking lot sensors or garbage bins are connected to the Internet and can offer potential gateways for hackers. Theoretically one weak link is all, the central servers of the city need to be shut down and cyber terrorists could go even further.
Estonia demonstrates how to protect oneself in terms of digital administration. Estonia leads the way in Europe, Estonians can vote online and almost all public services are digitally accessible. But this also increases vulnerability.
In 2007 Estonia was targeted by cyber-attacks from a global network of connected BOTS or botnet. Both online banking and government websites were affected. In response, Estonia has implemented annual international training on fighting attacks from hackers.
They are organized by NATO’s cyber defense hub and over 20 nations, the military and tech companies take part. Question is not, will we got to hit with the cyber-attack? The question is when you will get hit with a cyber-attack?
Cybersecurity is not something you can do once, because the threat vector and threat landscape are changing every day. Cybersecurity is also crucial for smart cities they are becoming a steadily increasing economic factor.
Technology companies are using smart cities around the world to test their technologies for the future. And this is the crucial step for us to start our journey towards Type 1 civilization. However, The big question remains the same, does this benefit the citizens? Two points are of importance to us
- Who control the applications? and
- Who owns the data?
We need to find responsible solutions in the citizen’s interest, what’s your opinion? Would you like to live this way? how smart is your city? join the discussion in the comment section.