Data security: our candor will make the Achilles heel of Smart Cities

The Smart Cities, even designed a very limited way, like a cluster of communicating applications, generate data, colossal amounts of data.

These datasets represent, rightly, a providential future for the IT industry. This is why all major IT systems vendors redouble their imagination to promote their expertise in “big data”, ie management of this enormous mass of data. All promise to help their customers, including cities, not only to manage but also capitalize on creating an unexpected and previously unattainable value.

The goal is laudable, in no doubt.

But history has taught us that man is to divert as inventive innovations for less laudable goals.

Very emblematic examples have shown in recent years that no system, as protected and sensitive as it is, is inviolable. All stored data are potentially available and accessible, exceptionally.

No one can predict what use can be made. But in no doubt, this mass of data concerning citizens is a possible threat and a real weakness of Smart Cities. I am always amazed how lightly the issue of data confidentiality is often treated, by cities and by solution providers.

It should not be giving up an almost inevitable development of cities. The energy and environmental challenges we face require detailed management systems and so data for this monitoring.

The first protection we can envisage is not technological. It is rather to deny technological totalitarianism: it’s not the technology that should dictate the solutions. Solutions available on the market must not define the issues that cities must meet. Cities must develop the ability to strictly define their needs and the deployed solutions have to be calibrated to meet them, nothing more. For this, we must also mourn the perfection that the technological world gives the illusion to achieve.

The performance of a Smart City will be much the compromise between data and citizens’ protection, and the benefits to residents.

Wanting too much leverage on technology to the detriment of the protection aspects should well lead quickly to a massive rejection of Smart Cities.

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