April 15, 2015

Is the US Ready for a Smart City?

In our modern technological times, with our smartphones, smart TV’s and even smart meters, it’s not shocking that municipalities are turning to the idea of becoming completely wi-fi interconnected smart cities.  One city in particular, San Jose in California, is stepping up to the challenge of becoming an Internet of Things pilot project.

The Deal

In an agreement that was finalized within just the last few weeks, a company called anyCOMM is going to be setting up almost 150 wi-fi sensors around San Jose.  They are focusing on streetlights for positioning and power sources.    The local Mineta Airport will receive an additional almost 20 sensors.  It has faced significant security breaches in the last 12 months alone.

Of course, its incorporation into the project is still dependent upon the agreement of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Purpose

These sensors are going to be more monitoring/tracking/observing devices in a world seemingly overrun by them already.  They will track traffic, pedestrians, control streetlights, monitor seismic activity, even warn citizens of potential quakes and provide wi-fi hotspots for the citizenry.

Of course, since this is a beta test city, full functionality will depend on numerous factors and whether or not the technology remains functional and operational.  These factors are still up in the air, of course, and determining the overall dependability of the project is part of the test.

Privacy Concerns

While some citizens are leery at the idea of more observation by random and government entities, anyCOMM has gone on the record stating that while video and audio will be recorded, they will not be gathering personal information.  When the project’s pilot phase is concluded, the parent company will report to the city what they’ve gleaned and suggest ideas for improving the city’s functionality as such.

Other Concerns

According to one seo company chicago, one of the single biggest overall concerns pertaining to the project is whether or not the wi-fi sensors can be depended upon to work consistently.  Even in the most well-tested of situations, wi-fi can be undependable.  There are serious worries that the monitoring technology might fail in inclement weather or for a plethora of other yet-to-be-determined reasons.

The biggest concern is the large distance that will be covered by a single wi-fi network.  Most networks operate on a much smaller scale.

smart citySecurity of Data

One other serious concern for citizens and the local city government alike is the security of any data collected.  While the parent company has assured folks that they are not collecting personal data, the bottom line is that the equipment will be recording virtually every activity that takes place in public areas within the city.  It doesn’t take much of a stretch of the imagination to see how even this data, in the wrong hands, could be compromising for a lot of people.

The bottom line is that because this is a pilot project, there are countless unforeseeable outcomes to the situation.  This is the trial city that will be used to work out kinks and bugs and determine feasibility for other cities, if at all.