Smart Cities (Summer 2019)

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Smart Cities


Introduction: What Exactly is a Smart City?

The Smart City.

Smart cities are municipalities or urban areas that use a variety of information and communication technologies in order to collect vast amounts of electronic data in order to benefit the city and its citizens as a whole [1]. By leveraging technological forms of Automation, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and Internet of Things Technology (IoT) smart cities are able to better make use of their resources to their utmost potential.

While each smart city upholds its own standards in what they look to accomplish, their is a common list of goals amongst them, which are [2]

Improving the quality of life Driving Economic Competitiveness

Fostering Sustainability

Allowing for more Government Efficiency

Improving health and wellness

Allowing for more Mobility Improving Public Safety

How are these Methods Achieved: What are the Main Components of Smart City?

Components of Smart City

There are various components that both establish a smart city and improve the functionality of the city as a whole [3]:

Smart Mobility

Smart mobility components aim at reducing congestion and enriching faster, greener, and more efficient transportation options. These include:

Smart Parking: Optimizes the use of parking spaces to determine if spaces are open or not to the public.

Smart Traffic Control: Allow intelligent systems to optimize the traffic flow by adjusting traffic lights and other signals.

Smart Safety

Smart safety technology looks to improve public safety and save lives. These include:

Smart Street Lighting: Street lights could for example become brighter when movement is detected, so it becomes clear from a distance that traffic is approaching.

Predictive Policing: Real-time facial recognition and license plate scanning, can be used to find out where a crime is most likely to take place on a specific day and time.

Smart Energy

Smart energy technology aims at greener energy generation, lower energy consumption, an energy consumption pattern with flattened peaks, and a resilient distribution grid. These include:

Smart Grids: Optimize energy management by not only capturing energy but consuming it as well

Smart Meters: Records consumption of electric energy in intervals of one hour or less and communicates this data to the utility company

Smart Water

Smart water solutions aim at minimizing waste and securing quality as one of the pillars of sustainability. These include:

Advanced Warning for Flooding: Use predictive analytics on weather forecast data combined with geographical data to forecast probable flooding zones and times

Smart Waste

Smart waste management technology looks to track waste services, reduce costs, improving waste collections. These include:

Just in Time Waste Collection: Equip the waste containers with sensors that detect the volume of the waste in the container

Smart Buildings

Smart buildings look to leverage automation technologies in order to make buildings more energy efficient and cost effective.

Smart Services

Smart services are a variety of services that can be optimized in order to improve the city such as:

Smart Health

Smart Education

Smart Finance

Smart Tourism & Leisure

Smart Retail [4]

What are the Different Developmental Stages of a Smart City?

There are four stages of development a smart city can be a part of which are: Initial, Intentional, Integral, and Transformed [5].

Within each of these four stages there are seven dimensions in which they are based on: Strategy & Vision, Projects & Solutions, Data, Technology, Skills & Competencies, Openness, and Ecosystems [6].

It is common for many smart cities to be in transition between two stages and therefore carry characteristics between two stages across the dimensions. Below is a breakdown of each of the stages measured by its dimensions and examples of what cities may reside in each particular stage.

Initial Stage

An example of a city within the initial stage could vary as the vast majority of initially developing cities tend to reside in this stage such as Edmonton [7].

Strategy & Vision: unconnected fragments of a smart city vision found in some departments & no clear image of what city wants to be in the long term

Projects & Solutions: Ad Hoc style; department based projects driven by technological push & random initiatives

Data: Data is collected in the context of traditional city procedures & responsibilities only Basic analysis of data in the form or simple reporting on isolated data sets

Technology: Fixed & mobile internet broadband networks are in place Limited investments in sensors and M2M networks.

Skills & Competencies: No clear view on the skills & competencies that are needed to execute the digital strategy successfully

Openness: Low appetite for taking risks and experiment

Ecosystems: Siloed internal organization with respect to smart cities

Deloitte Smart City Stages Maturity Model.

Intentional Stage

An example of a smart city within the intentional stage would be the city of Vancouver[8].

Strategy & Vision: Cross-departmental vision and strategy emerges with key stakeholders aligned around it

Projects & Solutions: Cross-departmental projects emerge but still in an opportunistic way

Data: Small scale pilots to collect (IoT) data specific for smart solutions are in place Pilots with advanced data analytics on city data emerge

Technology: Shared architectures are deployed on a limited set of services Dedicated M2M / IoT networks (low bandwidth, high range) are in place.

Skills & Competencies: Required skills and competences are pinpointed and a plan is in place for developing the workforce capabilities.

Openness: Growing awareness for the need to become open for new ideas, experimenting and taking calculated risks.

Ecosystems: Internal and external collaboration is growing.

Integral Stage

An example of a smart city within this stage would be Reykjavik, Iceland [9].

Strategy & Vision: Integral citywide vision and strategy based on a thorough assessment of strengths, opportunities and challenges of the city

Projects & Solutions: A cohesive citywide portfolio of cross-departmental projects delivers recurring success.

Data: First city wide collection of (IoT) data specific for smart solutions is operational Data analytics is applied on combined data sets to provide new insights

Technology: City wide implementation of an IoT platform unifying management of all kinds of sensors. Standards and policies are in place to create integral architectures

Skills & Competencies: Skills and competences of the workforce are developing but deficiencies still exist at some pockets of expertise.

Openness: City wide transition towards an altered attitude to risk and willingness to experiment with new ideas.

Ecosystems: Government is becoming part of creative public/private ecosystems in which neither of the participants has top-down control.

Transformed Stage

While no smart city has achieved this stage fully, this closest is Singapore which is in between the integral and transformed stages[10].

Strategy & Vision: Vision and strategy are subject to continuous optimization in an agile environment, based on measurement/data of realized benefits

Projects & Solutions: Initiatives are characterized by agility and focused on innovation.

Data: Data fueling the full spectrum of smart solutions is collected City wide use of mature advanced data analytics (real-time, big data, predictive)

Technology: Cross organizational technology architectures are in place. City wide deployment of connectivity infrastructure and sensors networks for all major smart solutions.

Skills & Competencies: City government uses a blend of investment, innovative approaches and external support to secure the right skills and competences.

Openness: The “fail fast, fail quickly and fail cheap” approach has become part of the organization’s DNA..

Ecosystems: The new way of working in creative ecosystems has transformed the government organization itself.

Given the maturity model, let's take a look at an example of one the cities in the Integral category, Reykjavik, Iceland.


Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is slowly becoming one of the world’s sustainability leaders due to their efforts in becoming one of the smartest cities in the world. They have been consistently ranked within the top 10 and more recently number 5 when ranking smart cities across the world with more than 99% of electricity production and almost 80% of Reyjavik's total energy production comes from hydroelectric and geothermal energy, which makes its buildings naturally green [11]. There are three major initiatives Reykjavik is currently undergoing in order to maintain its status, particularly when it comes to environmental impact:

Connected Homes Reykjavik currently occupies one of the most advanced and True Open Access Fibre Optic Networks and is offering 100 percent fibre throughout the entire city. These can give citizens of Reykjavik access to internet speeds of up to 500 mb/s compared to the world average of just 3.5 mb/s[12].

Efficient Transportation Reykjavik’s smartphone app Straeto has been downloaded over 85,000 times and considering the population is just over 330,000 and has optimized bus networks, train stations, and navigation throughout the city as a result [13]. They have also recently teamed up Zipcar and ON power, Reykjavik’s primary energy company, in order to debut a brand new car-sharing service to aid with more energy efficient transportation[14].

Government Interaction The government has established a website titled Better Reykjavik, where citizens can submit ideas concerning any issues throughout the city leading to city council debating the most popular ideas to see which are worth implementing. To date after only being implemented 10 years ago, 60 percent of the citizens have used the website resulting in the city spending 1.9 million euros for the development of over 200 citizen based projects [15].

Example of a Smart City


In 2014, Singapore announced the Smart Nation initiative, which rolled out 1000 sensors across the entire city-state. This initiative planned to “harness ICT, networks, and data to support better living, create more opportunities, and to support stronger communities.” [16] Singapore was listed 6th most smart city 2018 index by IESE Business School in Barcelona. Singapore has utilized data driven technology to digitize its economy, government, and society. Along with New York, London, and Tokyo, Singapore aims to spend over a billion dollars on smart city projects in 2019. [17]

Smart Nation Initiative[18]

Smart Nation Sensor Platform

The Smart Nation Sensor Platform was rolled out with the Smart Nation initiative in 2014. This platform uses an integrated network of sensors placed around the city to gather data which is used to improve services and city wide operations as well as for city planning. Data is also gathered from smartphone usage. 110,000 smart lampposts are planned to be installed throughout Singapore by the end of 2019. The sensors can collect weather data such as temperature, humidity, and rainfall, as well as monitor noise levels which can react to a loud scream or a car accident [19]. Sensors are also located in public spaces to monitor crowd density, safety, and pedestrian movement. Surveillance technology can be used to track if people are smoking in non-designated areas. The overall objectives of the Smart Nation Sensor Platform are to increase efficiency throughout Singapore and to provide technology based solutions for human problems in areas such as healthcare, urban living and mobility, safety, and to integrate city planning and public services. [20]


Smart Features

The Government Technology Agency (or GovTech) is in charge of building the Smart Nation infrastructure, platforms and applications to enable Internet of Things (IoT) based solutions. In 2017, The GTA collaborated with the Land Transport Authority to provide transit solutions based on data from CCTV video analytics, anomaly detection, and human traffic patterns. Other solutions provided were smart metering in households to measure consumption and to increase the efficiency of usage and provide better information for public amenity planning. [21]

Smart Nation Mobility

Transit Services

An example of how smart technologies can be used to solve urban problems is in the use of data-driven transit decisions. The LTA can manage transit resources by analyzing data collecting throughout the city. Sensors inside and outside buses can track the real-time location of buses to enable the LTA to manage their services and implement changes to routes and service schedules as required. Data sources can be correlated to explain congestions and other traffic outliers in real-time, and in understanding historical trends. Real-Time Singapore Traffic Watch provides citizens with live data providing them with information about real-time data about bus arrival timings, taxi availability, traffic conditions, and carpark availability [22]. The commuting experience empowers citizens with data and enables them to make informed decisions about their journey plans. Commuters can use transit apps that give them information about when the next bus is due, what other buses are on route, estimated arrival times, the number of seats available on each bus, destination arrival time, and receive notifications of any problems or delays that are currently happening along the route. This real-time data can also be used by the LTA to manage buses in the route. Real-time information allows the LTA to see many people are waiting for buses at each stop and can insert more buses into circulation as needed or remove them during off-peak times [23] The implementation of these technologies has resulted in a 92% reduction in bus service crowding issues when year on year average ridership has increased. The technologies have also cut average bus waiting times down by as much as seven minutes [24]

Parking Guiding Syetem

The Singapore Parking Guiding System was launched in 2008. Car Park Management systems allow wireless network data to be communicated to a central computer system to provide citizens with access to parking information throughout the city. Real data information on parking spots that are available is provided to everyone on overhead display boards or through smartphone apps. This system has reduced congestion around the city as drivers spend less time circulating around areas looking for parking spots and promotes efficient use of existing parking facilities [25].

Emergency Services

With an aging population, it is imperative that Singapore has efficient emergency services. Smartphones apps which contact emergency services directly have increased this efficiency, as well as the introduction of the myResponder app in 2015, which allows registered citizens to respond to medical emergencies nearby. The Singapore government hopes that this service will increase survival rates from incidents such as out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The app guides users to respond to nearby cases of emergency and instructs them to what actions to take before first responders arrive at the scene. Within the first year, there were over 2000 downloads of the myResponder app. [26]

Automonous Vehicles

The implementation of smart city technologies in Singapore has prepared the city well for the roll-out of autonomous vehicles. Singapore is second in the world and top in Asia in terms of its readiness to adopt autonomous vehicles. [27] KPMG has listed Singapore as the second-best country prepared for autonomous vehicles, after the Netherlands. [28] The advanced technological infrastructure that implementing the smart nation has resulted in Singapore being well ahead of other cities to deploy autonomous vehicles readily.[29] The city has consolidated ride-sharing services, has stationless shared bicycle services, and the first electric car-sharing service, BlueSG. The Volvo 7900 electric bus is being tested at Nanyang Technological University and is planned to be operational and used in the fleet of buses by 2022. These buses are fitted with GPS, 3D cameras, and light detection and range sensors and consume 80 percent less energy than a similar-sized diesel bus. The Moovita autonomous car is also being tested at NTU. [30] Singapore has already integrated autonomous vehicles with traditional cars in certain designated towns and cities operating under low-speed limits of 30 kilometers per hour. [31]

Virtual Singapore

Virtual Singapore is a dynamic 3D digital twin of Singapore that allows public, private, and academic users to develop scenario-based plans and solve complex urban problems using AI and machine learning models. The National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) championed the project. [32]

Capabilities of Virtual Singapore

Virtual Experimentation: one example of this would be testing which areas of the city have better 4G coverage and which areas have the poorest coverage. Users can see the areas to be improved colour coded in the 3d model. [33]

Virual Singapore[34]

Virtual Test-Bedding

The 3D model can be used to validate the provision of services. The model can be used to simulate crowd dispersion for mass evacuations. Planning and Decision-Making Virtual Singapore allows the development of integrated platform analytical applications. An example of this is developing an app to simulate traffic and pedestrian movement patterns. [35]

Research and Development

The R&D capabilities of Virtual Singapore allow the creation of new innovations and technologies for public-private collaboration to create value for Singapore. [36]

Other uses

Large collections of data throughout the city provide a myriad of uses for the 3D model. One such example is the placement of solar panels. Using light sensors around the city, hours of sunlight is known for locations in the model. This allows urban planners to analyze which buildings have the highest potential for installation of solar panels. The urban planners can then assess how much solar energy would be generated at those locations on a typical day, as well as calculate the energy and cost savings from using that amount of solar energy. [37]

Challenges of Smart Cities


Over the past 30 years, Barcelona has prioritized technology in developing infrastructure. Overall, the feedback received has been positive, however, there have been some criticisms of Barcelona’s approach to creating a smart city. Beginning in 2007, Barcelona started their smart city program by offering free Wi-fi access throughout the city and a municipal network for ubiquitous services. In the next few years, the city introduced urban innovation projects which included a modern network of energy, district heating, and technology-based garbage collection systems. Many projects were aimed to deliver environmental sustainability but did not achieve these goals. In the past decade, Barcelona has aimed to become smarter by carrying out e-government/e-governance programs and projects, however, the city did not have an overall plan for making the city smarter, it looked to develop smaller projects with top-down approaches [38]

Other problems Barcelona experienced were their methods of measuring the success of these smart projects. City officials measured accomplishments in terms of output such as the number of sensors connected or the number of users, instead of assessing the outcomes such as economic growth of environmental improvement. The Barcelona City Council implemented the smart city strategy, which involved mainly businesses and universities for input. The Council did not involve ordinary citizens in their plans, many of whom admitted they did not even understand the smart city concept before it was voted by the council to implement. Commentators identify this as a fundamental flaw, in conceptualizing a smart city platform for the benefits of citizens without including or educating them about it. This also identifies the importance of marketing in a smart city strategy. Without public approval and buy-in, citizens view themselves as mere recipients of the projects and not involved as partners with input into the type of city they are creating. [39]

There has also been criticism that the development projects in the city’s smart neighborhoods have had a negative social impact. An influx of newer residents to these areas from higher social classes has displaced existing working-class residents who were more vulnerable to the increased housing costs. [40]

Housing Concerns with Redevelopment

As Barcelona has found, bringing technology to traditionally working-class neighborhoods has caused displacement of residents and injected a wave of young professionals in their place. In the San Francisco Bay Area, these new professionals, and the technology industry as a whole have found themselves to be the target of growing resentment. Being a hotbed for the technology industry has drastically increased socio-economic inequality in the area. In San Francisco, the average income of the top 1% of households averages $3.6 million, 44 times the average income of the bottom 99%, which averages $81,094. The average house price in San Francisco has risen to over $1.25 million and the median condo price is now over $1.11 million. Moreover, the minimum qualifying income to purchase a house has increased to $254,000. This crisis has been caused by two factors: limited housing supply, and the growing desirability of the Bay Area due to the growth of the economy. Suggested solutions to this inequality are to build a high-speed rail between congested, high priced areas in the Bay Area and other lower priced. Lower density areas in the Central Valley. In addition to this suggestion, smart zoning policies which aim to densify the surrounding areas with affordable housing have also been proposed. These developments in areas with a heavy technology industry involvement could be considered in cities such as Toronto, where there have been plans to redevelop the waterfront onto a smart city neighborhood. [41]

Toronto Sidewalk Labs Plans

Sidewalk Toronto, an Alphabet subsidiary, has announced plans to develop a 12-acre area of publicly owned land on the Toronto waterfront into a fully smart neighbourhood. Sidewalk has announced that there will be a mixture of accommodations, with between 20% to 33% of an estimated 2500 units being made affordable housing. The whole development is proposed to be built entirely of mass timber and will be built with a green focus, reducing emissions in the neighbourhood by up to 80%. The area is being planned as pedestrian-centric with bike-friendly avenues. A below-ground tunnel system to facilitate freight delivery and automated garbage collection are also planned. [42]

Other smart technologies proposed for the smart neighbourhood are:

- Surveillance technology used to count people, management usage of space, and automated parking spots. [43]

- Binners Junk Removal app that will automate garbage collection and simplify the process making it more sustainable. [44]

- Building and facility monitoring technology for real-time management by analyzing data collected from sensors connected through a private wireless network.[45]

- Spark EV stations attached to the exterior of buildings. [46]

- Intelligent leak protection and water monitoring in all units. IoT technology provides readings of usages which also allows remote water shut off.[47]

There are also solar-powered smart benches proposed throughout which provide analytics, wifi, and mobile charging. [48]

Toronto Smart Initiative [49]


Criticisms of the development have stated the dichotomy of a non-Canadian private company collecting data about Canadian residents. What is done with the data once it has been collected is also being discussed. The laws of the location of where the data is stored will dictate how it can and cannot be used. Commentators have stated that the data should stay in Canada and that there should be local data governance. There has also been criticism of the lack of local government reassurance regarding corporate use of the data. Sidewalk labs have proposed that the data be stored in a public data trust, accessible to any user, however, they have frequently been criticized for a lack of clarity about other details of this trust. Other criticism has been directed towards local government playing a passive role in developments, which could lead to Sidewalk having more access to data than the city in future if a proactive plan to address data governance is not taken. This criticism raises further concerns regarding the power balance between local governments and private corporations at present and in the future. Uber, autonomous vehicle implementations, and Amazon pitches have all been scenarios where cities have conceded power in order to offer corporations a better deal to lure them. The Toronto initiative further clouds the boundaries between companies and local government in that Sidewalk has done most of the public engagement process, which would traditionally fall under the management of local government. [50]

Future Technologies

We took inspiration from Amazon Web Services[51], as they have nicely categorized the potential of certain technologies that may be present in future, hypothetical cities. As mentioned earlier, smart transportation technology could most definitely encourage a more efficient and economical way of commuting, considering that sensors and data systems would be able to provide feedback about usage and fuel. Health monitoring (both inpatient, outpatient, and casual usage) may be an enlightening technology for those who are health-conscious as well as a good preventative measure for those who are not. More detailed patient monitoring can indeed offer many benefits, as response time to a problem may be quicker if something is detected. Public health applications would also encompass monitoring of air quality, water quality, and other such indicators with the health of both citizens and the environment in mind.

The Future of Public Safety

In recent years, there has been more discussion concerning technology and its applications for public safety, with many concerns related to gun violence. As such, current and future smart city applications hope to use the new technology and the vast amount of crime data available to assist with public safety. We have outlined two main ones below.

Shot Spotter (Gunshot Detection)

ShotSpotter[52] is an application that combines sensor data and human monitoring in order to listen for and detect gunshots. On average, there is a 5.5 minute gap of time between a shooting incident and police response – a sensitive turnaround time that ShotSpotter seeks to bridge. For cities and civilians afflicted by heavy gun violence and past shooting incidents, this technology is a valuable tool to local law enforcement, and has already been in use in the USA since 2014/2015. In addition to urban neighbourhoods, it is being installed in college campuses now due to the recent gun violence incidents in those areas.

The sensors are placed strategically, and when a soundwave with similar characteristics to a gunshot is detected, the sensors are able to triangulate a location for human monitors who are trained to analyze the sound pattern (usually done within 30 seconds). If the assessment is positive, the results are published and relayed to dispatch agencies, patrol officers near the area, and emergency services.

This technology has indeed proven to be beneficial the American cities that have implemented it, with some statistics such as:

- A 66% reduction in shootings per mile in Oakland, California (from 2012-2018)[53]

- A 48% reduction in shooting victims in 2018 compared to 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio[54]

- A 48% reduction in gunfire between 2013 and 2014 in Camden County[55]

- 342 gunfire incidents identified in Las Vegas without any civilian 911 calls (2018)[56]

HunchLab (Crime Detection)

The HunchLab technology[57] is meant to assist law enforcement with features such as:

- Predictive missions that use statistics to identify areas of higher risk to patrol, with further breakdowns by the type of crime that is more likely in certain places

- Consultative services which allow officers to correspond with human analysts who use algorithms as well as Bayesian tactics to formulate suggestions

- A ‘sidekick’ function that provides a GPS and contextual information to field officers

The hope of this is to provide law enforcement with more background information in a quick and accurate way – crucial context is often needed in a timely manner, and this application may be able to help accelerate the process.

However, despite the potential of the applications listed, there are some points that also need to be discussed. With HunchLab, for instance, there is the valid concern of neighbourhood profiling in relation to its predictive missions. While more focused law enforcement attention could be relieving for some community members, others may be more wary of potential assumptions or misconceptions. This could include the stereotyping of certain demographics, or the discomfort associated with increased officer presence in tense situations. With ShotSpotter, there is the worry that a shot may be inaccurately detected and cause tension between enforcement and citizens.

Social Benefits of Smart Cities

At the same time, when we look at public demonstrations of new initiatives, citizens have to make sure that these businesses or governments, such as the singapore ‘digital twin’ simulation, can show the risks, costs, and benefits. In fact, all of this information should be stated in the planning stages. In this way, citizens can propose new boundaries on what the simulations can offer and what can be moved to city-scale implementation.
Cities have to also look at the lifestyles and degree to which they are directly affecting. For example, water initiatives may mean more people have to ‘adopt responsible usage habits’. Even though smart cities are opting for system efficiencies like smart water, they have to make sure they’re not seeking the ‘big brother’ role. It can be very useful for companies to push these new directions to consumers and possess an authoritarian control on consumers. As a result, People must always be wary when it comes to using new lifestyle methods and services implemented by the government, especially those being introduced in their daily routines and in their house.

Monitoring Environmental Conditions

With more sensors and cameras, there is more potential for monitoring pollution, air quality, traffic congestion, temperatures and predicting earthquakes [58]. Futhermore, there is more inisght gained in the scientific applications such as monitoring bee colonies or diseases rising in a given city. With diverse apps, companies in these spaces have the ability to get users to provide valuable data that can lead to scientific conclusions. More importantly, this information can help the city hub to make better decisions. For example, if we look at parking, sensors in street parking will allow citizens to look at the parking availability. Likewise, the network of computers can adjust parking prices as needed to meet demand. This reduces the wasted time and increased congestion that people face when they want to park their car somewhere.

Water and energy conservation

With populations in cities growing, it is inevitable that water consumption will grow as well. The number one cause of water waste in cities is often poor infrastructure, although other factors come into play [59]. The term "smart water" points to water and wastewater infrastructure that ensures that water is transported effectively. The main focus of a smart water system is that it is designed to gather meaningful and actionable data about the flow, pressure and distribution of the city's water [60]. Further, it is critical that that the consumption and forecasting of water use is accurate. Through the software that runs smart city technology, moderators will be able to view smart meters and see where water is being used at higher rates. Moreover, the moderators can then respond to check for any leaks which will reduce the amount of wasted water for the city. Likewise, they can make the necessary changes to transport that excessive water to other areas in the city that don’t have sufficient water levels.
In terms of electrical demand for EVs, there is more movement towards condos and houses having mandatory EV charging stations. For example, now that more people are buying and charging electric vehicles, the electric grids of these cities could potentially be at risk of being overloaded. The good news is that the French car maker Renault, has actually signed agreements with key players in the European energy markets to work on creating sustainable electric ecosystems [61]. Given the value of the EV’s, it’s more than likely that other car makers will follow.
In fact, with the rise of EVs, more condo units need to implement these charging stations to keep the real estate value from falling. In fact, a lot of buildings don’t have EV stations because it can cost up to $20,000 in Vancouver [62]. Furthermore, there are rules in which neighbors can prevent a person from charging their EV. For example, if the neighbors outvote to not allow EV charging, then the person wanting to install an EV charger is outvoted. However, there is a law in Ontario where the condo boards need accurate reasons why they are turning down the EV charging station, for example, if the outlet will cause harm to the building [63].

Risks of Smart Cities

Privacy risks to citizens

More data is being shared in apps that are used on a daily basis. Besides the big social media apps that require access to user data, cities also have apps that obtain info from their citizens and use it to track demographics and improve upon city services. Even though their is more connectivity and city operations, data breaches are also possible. Consequently, hackers who try to access public data can sell it or publish it online. However, the focus should be on making clear boundaries on a city’s involvement with collecting our data. There is also more government involvement in holding personal data that raise concern about civil rights and privacy. For example, smart city themselves could be making “under the table sales” of citizens’ personal data to private firms. Private firms can then exploit this data for their own benefit in a short period of time. They can use the personal information to track our daily routines, what we like to do, what we avoid, what we buy, and who we socialize with. For example, by detecting people who smoke in certain locations, more cleaning vehicles can be assigned to those locations. However, as citizens we want to be free when we smoke, and not be tracked around the city as such. Even if we see firms “advertising”, the firms might be using the analyzed data to alter our shopping behaviour, and make us spend money on things we do not need. In essence, they are taking the personal data we input into the city service apps and businesses, and use it against us to make a profit. Of course, cybersecurity is hugely important because more hackers or data attackers will try to access smart city data. Therefore, cybersecurity must be a consideration from as early as the initial planning phase, before a single smart parameter is ever adopted [64]. Cities have to allocate enough money to the cybersecurity initiatives to not only protect themselves from harm but also citizens and their personal data.
Even though smart cities are considered smart, some smart cities already exist in the world and the protection of data often only comes second. In fact, smart initiatives in Silicon Valley have been referred to as “surveillance capitalism” [65]. Ann Cavoukian leads the Privacy By Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University where she promotes her “privacy by design”. This concept is focused on implementing privacy into the design specifications of the technologies, infrastructure and business practices. Often, businesses disregard privacy ethics. In fact, many of them do not outline the specifics on what they should and should not do. The principles Cavoukian defines are: preserving consent; minimizing data collection and retention; ensuring there is no excessive collection of data and that it isn’t used for surveillance and cybersecurity; and determining what happens to the information when several organizations are involved [66].
Increased Authoritarian Power

Authoritarian Power

As things are more connected, there is more government power with regards to supervising people on a daily basis. Governments now have city cameras and sensors to track people. There is even 3D-technology that can scan car license plates to give penalties to those who are speeding [67]. Facial recognition is also an issue as governments try to justify it for safety reasons. Compared to third-world countries Canada is fairly safe, but there has to be accountability so that cities do not interfere. As governments collect real time data in even street audio and video, they have to be transparent on what exactly they are collecting, what the city is doing with that data, and whether it will be kept safe from using against citizens. Even though safety politics and government accountability isn’t an issue that is heavily promoted, it is our duty to shine a light on it. Likewise, we have to persuade the politicians and lawmakers to clearly draw the line in terms of safety, privacy and ethics of information.

Funding For Smart Cities

IoT projects need funds to pay for the necessary technology resources—and to sustain these projects over time. It’s often not the priority for governments to sustain the technology projects unless the investment is worthwhile [68]. Often times, the investment is valuable for the goal of gaining demographic data as talked about above. Even then, many cities do not have the money for small tech initiatives. As a result, cities often look to the private sector as they have experience with the IoT devices. Unfortunately, the private sector is governed by different privacy legislation than the public sector which means there are grey areas in what they can and can’t do [69]. This results in more complications for the funding of IoT services.

Next Steps

In terms of the Gartner Hype Cycle, there have been definite failures as well as successes, which we believe places the idea of smart cities at the Trough of Disillusionment. Further development can only continue if problems are addressed – issues such as funding, government onboarding, data collection issues, and more. Funding is crucial, and often requires a large public budget; in relation to that, government onboarding is most necessary due to the scale and obvious social factors involved in implementing sensor and data collection technology in a major city. This touches upon all the data collection issues that were mentioned earlier as well, which must be treated with importance and careful consideration.

Gartner Hype Cycle [70]


William Ryan Alan John Tomiko Liu Juan Barrero
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada


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