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Smart cities
Smart cities

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2.5 When is a sensored city a censored city?

The image is of various security cameras used in cities.
Figure 6 A censored city?

While filling our cities with sensors may have the potential to make our cities smarter, questions remain about citizens’ tolerance for increasingly invasive levels of data collection. Is there a point when a sensored city becomes a censored city and citizens feel they’re under surveillance?

Who’s doing the sensing? What are they measuring? Who has access to the data? These questions are important. But so too are questions concerning the purpose of sensing, the changes that will be enabled as a result of the data collected and how these changes will benefit citizens. Of course another critical question asks what controls are in place to protect personal data.

Many smart cities accept privacy and security as key issues that need to be addressed. Levels of citizen acceptance and trust are crucial to the effectiveness of smart city projects. Yet there is very little public information about how cities are responding to these issues.

Activity 3 Thinking about privacy

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Note down your thoughts on these questions:

  • Are you concerned about increasing numbers of city sensors and their impact on your privacy?

  • Or perhaps you think the benefits outweigh the risks?

  • Do you know of any good examples of cities addressing the issues of privacy and security?

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