In recent years, smart city projects have been multiplying around the world. This concept seems to have become the ideal solution for solving all the problems that affect large urban centres, starting with environmental protection (energy optimisation, improved buildings and transport, waste management). How can smart city technologies help improve the lives of citizens? What are the main issues? Is the amount of data collected by their sensors a risk to the public?
How does the smart city improve the lives of residents?
The scope of the smart city is as vast as it is varied. The principle is simple: public infrastructure (including both buildings and street furniture), the various networks (transport, electricity, gas, water, internet) and services (land administration, waste collection and recycling, etc.) are now connected and equipped with sensors.
The collection of information will first of all serve to understand the needs of the users. Depending on the results, various smart city technologies can then be implemented.
- The city of Stockholm, for example, has chosen to massively deploy broadband connections throughout its territory. Companies and innovation players have been grouped together in the same area in order to reduce travel and better protect the environment.
- Lyon is using this innovation to facilitate travel within its metropolis and to optimize its energy costs. In Rio de Janeiro, the system has even made a part of the population that was previously ignored by officials more visible.
Massive data collection raises questions about privacy protection
The innovation of the smart city is based on Big Data, among other things. While it has many advantages from the point of view of users and residents, it must also be admitted that it raises questions about the protection of citizens’ privacy.
Indeed, the latter are not always aware that smart city sensors are omnipresent and that these technologies are essentially based on data exploitation.
In order to improve and to face the importance of the stakes, the IoT must therefore encourage actors to better communicate towards citizens. Processes should also be implemented to ensure that data is completely anonymized and not resold to third parties.
Two aspects that are not currently guaranteed, even following the massive deployment of the RGPD (General Data Protection Regulation) which requires the creation of a “Data Protection Officer” position for any entity handling a large amount of sensitive information.