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Smart City Trends: Should we be worried about Privacy?

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As per the UN predictions, 68% of the entire world population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This clearly shows that urbanisation is taking place at an unimaginable speed and scale. The rapid movement of people to the city places a lot of strain on the traditional systems that towns rely on to deliver services. Smart city technology comes in to make cities more efficient and effective, which is necessary considering the estimated increase in urban residents over the next couple of decades. 

Smart city trends are developing with fast-evolving technological innovations. Let’s look at some of the smart city trends and how they help solve the problem of overpopulation in cities. 

Smart City Trends and Benefits

A huge influx of people in the city creates problems such as food and housing scarcity, pollution, and also affects the delivery of certain services. By leveraging the latest technologies, smart cities can deal with issues like neighbourhood safety, waste disposal management, economic development, transport, and urban planning. Let’s look at some of these trends in detail.

Smart Transportation 

Big cities are characterised by heavy traffic, inept transportation, and declined road safety and security. Smart cities solve these issues by bringing in smart traffic lights integrated with cameras and sensors and installed in cars. This way, it is possible to track traffic flow and reduce congestion during peak hours.

Smart energy

Energy-efficiency becomes a problem in big cities as the demand rises and the supply remains constant. With different IoT solutions, smart cities are able to implement smart energy management. 

Technologies such as smart meters and grids make it easy for utility companies to gauge power consumption in real-time. This way, they are able to anticipate periods of high usage and low usage, making it possible to regulate energy distribution appropriately. 

Privacy Concerns of Smart Cities

The concept of a smart city can only make sense if there is enormous data collection and analysis. This data is derived from an array of connected devices and is used to gain insights and opportunities for better health care, improved standards of living, and enhanced service delivery. The problem is that this data can be abused, and even used for mass surveillance. 

Smart city technologies such as CCTV systems and facial recognition technology can be used to track and identify anybody, any time, without their consent, just like it traces criminals and terrorists. This is an obvious violation of the residents’ right to privacy! What’s more, the data collected is usually centralised and also connected to the internet, and this makes it prone to breaches. 

The Future of Smart Cities

Other than surveillance and privacy concerns, other concerns are encompassing smart cities and their massive data collection practices. The data collected can also be stolen by hackers and misused. And, to make matters even worse, these huge amounts of data collected usually contain sufficient information about a person for a cybercriminal to steal their identity and execute crimes. 

As a resident, it’s good to note that you are not completely helpless when it comes to privacy concerns of smart cities. There are things you can do to still maintain your privacy while enjoying all the benefits that come with a smart city. 

One of the ways to protect yourself is by using a VPN to safeguard privacy. A VPN encrypts your traffic and secures it from online surveillance by the government and hackers. It is especially useful when you connect to public networks provided by the government or private corporations. 


The world city population is swelling at a high rate, creating a myriad of social problems. As a result, cities around the world are leveraging smart technologies to help address the problems emanating from overpopulation. 

However, smart cities have to collect massive amounts of data to be effective in their initiatives, which causes privacy concerns for city residents. While citizens can find ways around protecting their privacy and still enjoy all that the smart city has to offer, governments and all the stakeholders need to make sure that smart cities are carefully designed with the necessary protections to ensure the privacy of their citizens is safeguarded. 


This guest blog was supplied by Chris Jones from TurnOnVPN.

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