Will ‘Smart Cities’ Violate Our Privacy?

An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld’s article on the implications of New York City’s plan to blanket the city with “smart” kiosks offering ultrafast Wi-Fi.
The existence of smart-city implementations like Intersection’s LinkNYC means that New Yorkers won’t actually need mobile contracts anymore. Most who would otherwise pay for them will no doubt continue to do so for the convenience. But those who could not afford a phone contract in the past will have ubiquitous fast connectivity in the future. This strongly erodes the digital divide within smart cities. A 2015 study conducted by New York City found that more than a quarter of city households had no internet connectivity at home, and more than half a million people didn’t own their own computer…
Over the next 15 years, the city will go through the other two phases, where sensor data will be processed by artificial intelligence to gain unprecedented insights about traffic, environment and human behavior and eventually use it to intelligently re-direct traffic and shape other city functions… And as autonomous cars gradually roll out, New York will be well positioned to be one of the first cities to legalize them, because they’ll be safer thanks to 5G, sensors and data from all those kiosks.
Intersection, a Google-backed startup, has already installed 1,000 of the kiosks in New York, and is planning to install 7,000 more. The sides of the kiosk have screens which show alerts and other public information — as well as advertisements, which cover all the costs of the installations and even bring extra money into the city coffers.
New York’s move “puts pressure on other U.S. cities to follow suit,” the article also points out, adding that privacy policies “are negotiated agreements between the company and the city. So if a city wants to use those cameras and sensors for surveillance, it can.”


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