Monday, May 7, 2018

"With smart cities, your every step will be recorded"

Assume for now that I am incorrect in my judgement that the very people who pursue political power are exactly the same folks who should not be allowed anywhere near it. The Venn diagram looks something like this:
Putting that concern aside, what are the [other] risks of gathering and storing all the information the purveyors of smart cities are proposing? A couple Coventry Uni boffins tackle the question.
From The Conversation:
Modern cities are brimming with objects that receive, collect and transmit data. This includes mobile phones but also objects actually embedded into our cities, such as traffic lights and air pollution stations. Even something as simple as a garbage bin can now be connected to the internet, meaning that it forms part of what is called the internet of things (IoT). A smart city collects the data from these digital objects, and uses it to create new products and services that make cities more liveable.

Although they have huge potential to make life better, the possibility of increasingly smarter cities also raises serious privacy concerns. Through sensors embedded into our cities, and the smartphones in our pockets, smart cities will have the power to constantly identify where people are, who they are meeting and even perhaps what they are doing.

Following revelations that 87m people’s Facebook data was allegedly breached and used to influence electoral voting behaviour, it is ever more important to properly scrutinise where our data goes and how it is used. Similarly, as more and more critical infrastructure falls victim to cyber-attacks, we need to consider that our cities are not only becoming smarter, they are also becoming more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Smarter cities
Across the world, cities are rapidly becoming smarter. Cities as different as Singapore, London and San Francisco use technologies such as urban sensing (which captures how people interact with each other and their surroundings), geo-tracking (which records the movement of people), and real-time analytics (which processes the vast amount of collected data). Smart cities use these technologies to better manage energy and water supply, reduce contamination and traffic jams, optimise garbage collection routes or help people park their cars. A good example is Chicago’s Array of Things project.

Smart city initiatives don’t just have the potential to help make life more liveable, they can help us better the world. In 2013, the Greek academic Vassilis Kostakos introduced interactive LCD screens which encouraged people waiting at a bus stop to help identify malaria-infected blood cells.

Big data and privacy concerns
In the last few months, following the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook revelations, concerns over how companies use accumulated data has grown exponentially.

Back in 2009, experts were already aware that stakeholders could collect personal information from unaware users. Opaque privacy policies and complex data-sharing agreements allowed companies to bypass data protection law and use collected data for undeclared purposes.

Because of the huge and detailed information collected by internet of things (IoT) devices, smart city projects could lead to similar worries. Take for example, the Cityware project, which demonstrated the possibility of mapping not just digital but also physical encounters between Facebook friends. Cityware were able to track the movement and interaction of 30,000 people using their Facebook profile and smartphone bluetooth signals....MUCH MORE 
Here are two possibly related points. First up, another Venn diagram, this one via Franklin Veaux's Journal:
And from Worst Case Wednesday some news you can (potentially) use should everything turn out to be both hunky and dory*:
Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Make an Effective Tinfoil Hat
*"I cannot conceive on any theory of etymology that I ever studied why anything that is 'hunkee doree', or 'hefty' or 'kindy dusty' should be so admirable." That citation does at least suggest that 'hunky-dory' was in common enough use in 1866 for the author not to see fit to explain its meaning.