Building trust in smart cities: thinking beyond cybersecurity and privacy

building trust in smart cities
© iStock/jamesteohart

The digital era of advanced technology and the internet has brought about an important initiative: building smart cities which use technology to make things easier for citizens all over the world.

The concept of a smart city involves powering an entire city by data and the latest smart technology, providing numerous advanced services to its inhabitants. Currently, smart city initiatives are a big focus for technology vendors, urban planners, and city leaders. Whilst most of their focus is centred around the technology, it should also be placed on another very essential thing – building trust in smart cities. Since such a huge project demands a lot of stakeholders, they need to put their faith in a smart city to make it work. Building smart city trust means trusting that the concept will work in the best interest of all people involved, including the people, service providers, stakeholders, city leaders, and so on.

People need more than cybersecurity and privacy

If people are to put their trust in smart cities, they need more than a promise of cybersecurity and privacy. They need a trustworthy and well-functioning ecosystem that will help the concept of smart cities succeed. To establish such an ecosystem, solution providers and smart city builders will have to look beyond privacy and cybersecurity. Even though both are relevant and essential to the concept, there are other important elements necessary for building trust in smart cities, as there are numerous challenges and problems that might arise. These challenges and problems need adequate solutions and approaches.

The only way to build strong trust is by providing cost-efficient services that give real outcomes and allow residents and all others to rely on such services in their time of need. Consistency plays an important role in earning and reinforcing this trust.

It’s all about maintaining a comfortable way of life

Those that will be living in a smart city need to know that these cities are able to sustain and support their everyday needs, and they need real proof that it is so. Whether it’s transportation, police, emergency services, or anything else, the residents expect these to work smoothly and provide reliable outcomes on a daily basis.

If people can see that things work consistently and that they can rely on such services when they need them, then more residents will trust those services and smart cities will be able to thrive. With all this in mind, to build trust in smart cities, service providers need to be transparent, executive, and credible, providing services with outcomes that are consistent, fair, reliable, safe, and relevant to the needs of their residents and all others.

How smart homes fall into the smart city concept

Since smart cities use information communication and digital technologies with the sole purpose of making life more comfortable and efficient, building smart homes is the initial step in this new order of things. Smart homes are meant to offer a great number of smart devices that will provide lots of great possibilities in the future to make people’s lives easier – that is efficient and comfortable. As more and more people use smart devices in their homes, the more trust is being built in smart technology as a whole.

It’s because of this huge potential that smart homes will eventually become an integral element in the smart city experience. They can reduce traffic congestion, provide cost-efficient solutions in waste management, help with sustainable, eco-friendly energy sources, and so much more.

While most people think of smart homes as ordinary homes with smart devices that they can control from their phones, smart cities will make these homes much more powerful.

Citizen education and training as a safety measure

Smart homes will also ensure that networks and devices used in these homes are private and secure as this is extremely important to contribute to building trust in smart cities. Since these cities and homes will depend on the latest technology and internet to stay interconnected and working, user privacy and data processing is incredibly important. Public and private safety are becoming top priorities. Smart cities and homes demand smart citizens who will go along with this concept to make things work and so people in such cities will need to be aware of proper cybersecurity protocols.

When all these elements are put together, entire cities could become a cleaner and much safer environment for all. Implemented IoT technologies needed for such endeavors should be used to the benefit of both future homeowners and local authorities.

Steps for building trust in smart cities

The smart city journey is a long one, but it’s one step closer to becoming a reality with each passing day. Since trust plays a crucial role in that journey, the key steps are:

  • People need to fully understand the framework of a smart city trust ecosystem to adapt.
  • City leaders must adjust their vision and strategy to the people to make it realistic.
  • To assess the ecosystem and smart city trust capabilities, city leaders must perform an analysis of all possible threats, opportunities, weaknesses, and strengths.
  • It is paramount to identify and focus on top priorities.

Getting people excited about the idea of smart cities requires actions that will help lay a foundation of trust.

Henry Shephard



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