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Fear the smart city? New standard addresses privacy concerns

#File photo: Catching 'Imaginary Cities' on show at the British Library in London. - Tim Sandle
#File photo: Catching 'Imaginary Cities' on show at the British Library in London. - Tim Sandle

While smart cities make use of technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things, mobile networks, and artificial intelligence in order to raise efficiency levels and to improve the quality of life, these technologies also raise concerns with citizens. Foremost, the primary concern is privacy, and second invariably comes cybersecurity.

These are locales that utilize new information and communication technologies to solve the most pressing problems of urban living, such as housing, transportation, and energy complexities, assisting with planning and city governance.

For the smart city to function, citizens must share data. This includes personal information and location data, and these data are required for planning services and managing the ebb and flow of city life. Focusing on various data breaches, many citizens are reluctant to part with their data and remain concerned in terms of where the data is going and with who is using the data and for what purposes?

Hence, with privacy, this concern is often centred upon personal privacy. Addressing both privacy and security considerations is not straightforward since complex, interlinked technology is not straightforward to navigate, and the associated interconnections are as complex. There are also many stakeholders involved.

READ MORE: Three innovations to bring the smart city closer

To hep to address these issues a new technical specification has been produced by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in conjunction with the International Electrotechnical Commission.

The new standard is ISO/IEC TS 27570, titled “Privacy protection – Privacy guidelines for smart cities”.

The goals of the standard are to deliver:

Smart city ecosystem privacy protection;
Set out how standards can be used at a global level and at an organizational level for the benefit of citizens; and
Develop processes for smart city ecosystem privacy protection.

The standard sets out to provide recommendations and guidance on the management of privacy. The guidance applies to both organizations and those stakeholders who are concerned with the delivery, use or availability of a service. This applies to all services that constitute the smart city ecosystem.

Speaking with the ISO committee, Professor Kai Rannenberg, who is the Convenor of the group of experts who drew up the new standard, outlines why complexity is the biggest barrier. This is not least a product of the different technologies involved around big data, cloud computing, and IT governance.

Rannenberg states: “The key is knowing which one is most appropriate and how. ISO/IEC TS 27570 provides guidance on how to benefit from the standards available in the most effective way.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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