‘Smart city’ initiatives are creating a flood of new data

Published: April 03, 2019

Big DataCOLUMBUS, CITY OF (FRANKLIN) (OHIO)Community DevelopmentCybersecurityEconomic Development/RegulationEducation (Higher)Education (Primary/Secondary)General Government ServicesHealth CareInformation TechnologyInformation TechnologyInnovationJustice/Public Safety & Homeland SecurityLOS ANGELES, CITY OF (LOS ANGELES) (CALIFORNIA)Natural Resources/EnvironmentPublic FinancePublic UtilitiesSAN FRANCISCO, CITY AND COUNTY OF (SAN FRANCISCO) (CALIFORNIA)Social ServicesTransportation

As government entities continue to explore smart city agendas, questions are growing around what becomes of the new data collected as part of these smart technologies.

With numerous local governments pursuing smart city agendas, they increasingly find themselves facing questions around the data collected by the new technologies. Cities and communities across the county are experimenting with and implementing solutions based on new technologies in streetlights, traffic monitors, and environmental sensors, to name a few. The management of data is a consistent issue for city governments, which coupled with the greater amount of data collected, poses new issues around what to do with all the new data, how to share it, and how to keep it secure.

The City of Los Angeles has been fairly aggressive in its use of emerging technologies, such as a new open-data platform, environmental sensors, and innovative mobile apps. These technologies have provided benefits in a range of areas, such as sensors used to improve street sweeping and trash collection and an app used to detect and provide early warning on earthquakes.

Some cities, such as San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio, are considering the use of artificial intelligence in their smart technologies. San Francisco recently started a project in which AI backed sensors will be installed in trash bins. These sensors will monitor container activity, keeping track of fullness, temperature, and fill rates to provide analysis on waste generation patterns and make predictions to help optimize waste collection. Columbus, like other cities, is approaching the use of certain smart tech, such as connected vehicles and predictive policing. However, the issue is that Columbus has a lot of data, but not enough information. With this in mind, city officials are considering the use of AI to better optimize and utilize the data they have to address issues with transportation and congestion, as well as potentially public safety and health concerns.

Ultimately, however, the question over the data that is generated still remains. In some cases, data collected with smart technologies is being measured in yottabytes, or about 1 trillion terabytes. There are also issues around how to share the data, both within government across different agencies, and outside to the private sector. Finally, as with all technology concerns, there are still questions over the security of potentially sensitive data, issues with privacy, and attracting and keeping a workforce capable of making sense of everything.

While cities across the country continue to embrace these new, innovative smart technologies, it will be important to consider these potential concerns that are a natural byproduct of the increasing collection and utilization of data.

Source: StateScoop