Smartness has always been one of the key progressive elements for both living and non-living things in their respective evolutionary cycle. It’s a milestone which every generation of humans wants to achieve on a greater level as compared to the preceding one. Additionally, as our smartness grows so does that of the technology we use. So, we are here now in the age of Internet of Things (IoT) which has taken the aerial route to engulf almost all other electronic devices, along with the traditional computers and mobile phones.
Future-focused governments and well-known technology firms around the world have taken the initiative to now make our cars, homes, and even our cities completely “smart”. And IoT is not only targeting a specific set of devices, it is indeed targeting several types of services as well such as healthcare, broadcasting, retail, manufacturing and so on so forth.
But for this article, we will keep our focus on the initiative of “smart city” and what questions you should be asking about them. As the years are progressing, more and more population is looking to settle in the urban places around the world, increasing the overall population of the major cities around the world. According to one consensual study undertaken in 2014 by United Nations, 54% of the world population was living in urban cities at that time, which was expected to grow up to 66% by the end of 2050.
Plus, given these stats for the cities, IoT industry itself is expected to worth $257 billion just around the year 2020. Developing countries are looking forward to implementing and make their cities smart by using a groundbreaking IoT solutions. So, if you are among those folks who live in developing urban cities around the globe (or looking forward to relocating to one), here are the most common questions about smart cities you should know about and ask from respective authorities in the field.
Which Things Will Be Made “Smarter” In The Cities?
This is perhaps the most important question which every urban citizen should ask, or know about at least. The reason is that this question directly tackles with those things which will also directly impact your life in those cities. “There are some certain facilities/functionalities in the cities which will be enhanced, or made “smarter”, in the smart city initiative,” says Clovis Lacerda, Founder of Parlacom Telecommunications Brazil, a telematics IoT and M2M solutions provider in South America. The things which Mr. Lacerda stated are as follows:
- Energy department (such as the supply of water, gas, and electricity)
- Surveillance of important areas/buildings
- Management & deploying of law and emergency services
- Waste management
- Maintenance of signboards & billboards
- Maintenance of public facilities
“As IoT becomes more mainstream, we might expect to see various other things included in the “smart” initiative in the near future,” further states Mr. Lacerda. As a citizen living in a smart city, you should be aware of the things that are made smarter, and their direct relationship to you/your activities.
Is Privacy A Big Concern In Smart Cities?
Honestly, it is a question that has been on the forefront of web-based rights groups and the public. In fact, many governments have had to face public backlash due to grave privacy concerns on the use of web-based services. Not long ago, we heard the notorious case of NSA spying on various governments and public data around the world, a news leaked by none other than ex-contractor of Central Investigation Agency (CIA) of America.
Such kind of things reminds us the ability of the governments to tape on and employ deep surveillance programs over anyone, often sneaking into very private data. As more and more devices are connected to a network, which will obviously be administered by the local government agencies specifically created for that purpose, a big question mark remains on the security and confidentiality of a common citizen’s data.
What Will Be The Limit Of AI Given To Machines In A Smart City?
If you are a fan of “Sci-Fi” films and TV shows, you might have seen this scenario a lot of time when a machine literally disobeys the command given to it by the humans, right? Unfortunately, this is no longer considered a Hollywood stunt but something that is very real, and dangerous as well. Professor Stephen Hawking, currently considered as the greatest mind in science after Einstein himself, has warned that unleashing full AI potential to the machines could eventually bring about the end of mankind.
“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded by the machines,” forewarns Prof. Hawking in an interview to BBC in 2014. So, the question does qualify as eligible: How much AI will be given to the machines that are central in the management of a city and its citizens? Well, currently the technology still needs a command from us to do its processes. However, what future possess for us; looking at the speed of innovation and creativity in a scientific field, we can only hope that our future is everything that is good and beneficial for us.