Will your privacy be safe in a Smart City?
As you probably know, smart cities are already with us–at least part of it. With the huge strides scientists are making in IoT, AI technology, and more. It’s only a matter of time before we achieve full interconnectedness.
Smart Cities Explained
By definition, a smart city is simply a city that uses real-time data to improve its service delivery and economic development. Lots of data in real-time is, therefore, the backbone of these cities.
With enough data, governments get to analyze their strategies and come up with effective solutions to some of the most persistent problems in cities today. This could mean transport, urban planning, safety, environmental protection, energy conservation, and economic development.
Real-time data also means improved service delivery in the cities. The presence of smart sensors makes it easier for the city to identify blocked or leaking pipes and faulty power lines, hence reduces the downtime hours and improves the quality of life for citizens.
Smart technology also monitors the state of the existing infrastructure from roads, to bridges, to buildings. The sensors detect any signs of infrastructure failure early and notify the relevant personnel before it becomes a disaster.
The good connectivity in smart cities also creates room for better digital equity among all citizens.
The privacy concerns
Despite all the benefits and revolutionary changes smart cities bring, there’s still one big concern with this technology: privacy.
For a smart city to be effective, it needs data – massive amounts of raw real-time data. This means the technology will be collecting tons of data from the citizen’s daily life, using sensors and surveillance cameras.
In the case of network breaches and cyber-attacks, such a city puts the lives of most citizens at risk. There’s also the possibility of the misuse of technology, with the threat of some authorities using it for mass surveillance or unwarranted political reasons.
The future of smart cities
Smart cities have the potential to be the solution most cities are looking for. But to achieve this, they have to address the concerns of the citizens first, take, for instance, the privacy controversies regarding Google’s smart city project.
The relevant authorities have to improve the project’s transparency and accountability and also consult with the citizens on how to tighten the privacy measures.
As a citizen, you should also play your part in maintaining your privacy in a smart city. Some of the measures you can take include:
1. Use a VPN
A virtual private network is the best way to protect your data traffic from government and other third-party censorships. A VPN masks your IP address and tunnels your traffic through a secure server, improving your online privacy. Make sure you use it, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Smart cities mean that all your devices will be connected. Therefore, your password alone isn’t enough. You need to use 2-factor authentication for added security. Additionally, ensure that you use different passwords for all your accounts and devices.
3. Limit your social media information
Most social media platforms are notorious for collecting a lot of private data, and this isn’t going to change in smart cities. Therefore, limit the amount of information you share. The less there is about you online, the safer you’ll be.
We will not be able to stop the advance of modern technology. That is why being informed is so important. Then you know what to do to protect your privacy.
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