Michael Fauscette, from G2 Crowd, has raised concerns about the privacy issues of ambient intelligence in the growing smart cities. What does privacy mean in a city where our location, our actions, even our intentions are being tracked and recorded?
A smart city can be defined as a municipality which uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency. This data is also intended to be shared in order to improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.
The smart cities of the future, and to an extent now in some locales, will have hundreds of sensors to track your movements. Without knowing or consenting to any of it, you leave trails of data, as traceable as footprints. Is this is a concern?
According to Michael Fauscette, Chief Research Officer at G2 Crowd is raises some important issues. The strategist spoke with Digital Journal about these.
Digital Journal: What is a smart city?
Michael Fauscette: The simplest definition of a smart city is a city that invest and deploys a broad spectrum of IT solutions that are designed to improve government citizen services, citizen welfare, communication and the operational effectiveness of government organizations.
DJ: What are the benefits and disadvantages of living in one? How are smart cities changing?
Fauscette: The smart city movement is seeing a wide selection of technologies that incorporate unique ways to collect and use data, particularly incorporating IoT sensors and using AI-enabled systems to “learn” and more effectively manage city assets and operations. Edge computing, or putting the data processing closer to the sensor, is also creating some new opportunities. The emergence of ambient computing is likely the next big wave of innovative smart city tech.
DJ: Do citizens know how their data is tracked?
Fauscette: That’s a tough question. I think, at least in general, most people are aware that there is increased video surveillance and data collection from a variety of sources. Do they have any idea how much data is collected? That’s harder to answer and probably varies widely by individual.
DJ: Is there a growing lack of trust between citizens and technology providers?
Fauscette: The current backlash against Facebook’s revelations in data has probably temporarily created less trust of tech providers. I have a hard time thinking that the situation will be long-term though. If history teaches us anything about online interactions, it is that a step too far on the privacy front gets attention but the action by the provider generally moves back much less than the erosion that actually took place. Over time, people get used to the current state and then the erosion happens again...and again.
DJ: How is this affecting trust in government?
Fauscette: People's trust in government is more fragile than with tech providers. There certainly have been many revelations about US government privacy violations in a post-Snowden world.
DJ: How should we protect civic data?
Fauscette: Anything connected to the Internet can be hacked. It’s necessary to use the highest available security to provide as much protection as possible. It’s also necessary to regularly update those security measures as new intelligent security systems become available.
DJ: Should people have the "right to be forgotten?"
Fauscette: As for the right to be forgotten, I certainly like the idea of it in theory. I believe that an individual should have the choice to remove / protect any legal data they choose. It does need to be legislated too, otherwise it just won’t really happen.