Survey shows public scepticism over smart cities

Most respondents failed to see value in investment and were worried about implications for personal data

Two thirds of the public are unconvinced of the case for spending public money on smart city technology, and they are worried about the implications for their personal data, according to the results of a new survey.

Guy giving thumbs down signIt involved 2,030 people answering questions from Broadband Genie, the supplier switching service.

The prime findings were that 67% disagreed that investment in smart cities is a good use of public money, and 69% said having their personal data on a smart city system would create concerns around security and privacy.

The figures suggest that, while more cities are investing in the relevant technology, they have some way to go to convince the public of its long term benefits, and to assure them that it does not increase the risks to personal data.

This may be linked to another finding, that overall awareness of smart city initiatives was low, with just 10% of the survey respondents saying they knew about them.

Rob Hilborn, Broadband Genie’s head of strategy, said: “Smart technologies clearly have a big part to play in the future of UK cities, and are set to have a positive impact on many citizens, homes and businesses.

“However, it’s important we don’t overlook the security and privacy concerns surrounding this technology, especially given the increasing risk of attacks to infrastructure. Councils and government are going to need to get the public on board with this technology for it to be truly successful in the long term.”

Cyber anxieties

There are also worries about cyber attacks on city infrastructure. Cesar Cerrudo, chief technology officer at information security company IOActive, said: “I’m very concerned due to the current adoption of many insecure smart cities technologies. Most technologies are being implemented without any security testing, putting smart city services at risk of cyber attacks.

“Threats are very real; there are plenty of possibilities for cyber attacks on cities around the world. It’s just a matter of time that attackers decide to do it.”

Image by hobvias sudoneighm, CC BY 2.0 through flickr