Report: Cities Falling Behind on Security and Accessibility in 'Smart City' Tech

While cities around the world are introducing tech tools to improve services and increase their efficiency, many have failed to implement appropriate privacy and security protocols.

July 22, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Smart City

Tumisu / Pixabay

A new report outlines the failures of city governments around the world to protect data and ensure accessibility and security when using new technologies, reports Jason Plautz. "The report, based on detailed surveys with officials from 36 global cities, found that less than a quarter conduct privacy impact assessments when deploying new technology, while 80% acknowledge their legal obligations for privacy and data protection."

This "lack of guardrails on data privacy and security has delayed or halted some major smart city projects. Notably, Sidewalk Labs canceled its planned Quayside project on the Toronto Waterfront due to 'economic uncertainty' following the onset of the pandemic" as well as data privacy concerns.

Two-thirds of cities did not have a written data privacy assessment and less than half had designated officials in charge of privacy. Cybersecurity also remains an area of concern, with most cities lacking a chain of command that gives accountability for cybersecurity and just about half having senior management carry out regular reviews. More than half of cities did not have a written policy to make information and communications products accessible to people with disabilities.

"One area of success was open data, where the majority of cities had a policy of making data available for industry and the public, and most had a central data team."

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