Dear Doubters, Smart Cities are Just City Planning Initiatives on Steroids?

No, your living room isn’t going to be monitored by aerial drones — if that’s what you’re imagining.

Smart cities also aid in saving billions of dollars in energy costs.

The notion of a smart city intimidates many. This feeling of an abrupt invasion of privacy or deprivation of freedom instigates a certain scepticism in people’s minds.

In a nutshell, a smart city infuses technologies like big data and IoT (internet of things) to increase operational efficiency. Consequently, governments improve citizen welfare and service quality.

Yes, ideally, millions of interconnected devices make up a smart city. Criminals could exploit this platform to inject ‘worms’ and hijack personal data. Therefore, it becomes imperative that governments identify and prioritize the security of a city’s critical assets.

Another effective strategy is Security by Design which is proactive testing and monitoring of systems to flush out as many vulnerabilities as possible. I firmly believe that implementing a rigorous Security by Design architecture will secure and eliminate security flaws in the IoT ecosystem.

The bottom line is that there are risks in a ‘smart’ city. However, if the rollout is planned comprehensively alongside cyber specialists, there’s very little room for error.

Think about giving the government a brain. Now this “brain” processes all that information collected by a myriad of systems, sensors and devices. Later, it generates valuable insights like how a city reacts in real-time. Moreover, the government could even predict how crowds in a mall react to an explosion. Or, even how deadly diseases like the COVID-19 spread.

Imagine if the government rolled out a centralized app that allowed citizens to pay a speeding ticket, pay electricity bills, or even report violations to the cops. Honestly, I would never procrastinate on my bills again.

Smart cities also aid in saving billions of dollars in energy costs. Take street lights, for instance. Intelligent motion sensors lights/dims the street lights depending on activity. On the other hand, parking sensors can get drivers real-time information on available parking spots — thus reducing avoidable congestions and saving time.

Therefore, it’s only befitting that smart cities are here to improve the quality of living — and not sabotage your freedom. Interestingly, Juniper research has estimated that by 2021, smart parking initiatives will save nearly 4.2 billion staff hours annually.

To conclude, I firmly believe that the pros of a smart city outweigh the cons — (which are diminishable by an effective E2E plan). I hope that those against the concept of smart cities take a moment to become mindful of the potential economic revolution that’s possible — and reconsider their take on this ingenious landscaping marvel.

Seasoned entrepreneur developing inspiring solutions to challenging sustainability issues. Founder & CEO of Rookieplay Inc.