Minister Dara Murphy launches new report on privacy and security implications of smart cities and how best to tackle them

28 January 2016
By Bryan Smyth

Many cities around the world are seeking to use new networked technologies to tackle urban issues and improve quality of life. In Ireland, both Dublin and Cork have adopted smart city strategies that seek to improve city services, foster economic development, and engage citizens, while Limerick and Galway have also undertaken work in this area.

Dara Murphy TD
Dara Murphy TD

A new report, entitled “Getting smarter about smart cities: Improving data privacy and data security,” launched today (28th January, World Data Protection Day) by Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, calls for these smart city strategies to be smarter with respect to data privacy and security.

The report, written by Professor Rob Kitchin of The Programmable City project at Maynooth University, is the first publication by the new Government Data Forum, a panel of experts drawn from across industry, civil society, academia and the public sector. The Forum advises Government on the opportunities and challenges for society and the economy arising from continued growth in the generation and use of personal data.

Minister Murphy said:
“We would all like cities to be as smart as possible and to use new technologies for the greater good. However, as a society, and as individuals, we also have to think about the privacy and security questions they raise. This report details the privacy and data security implications of smart cities, but importantly also suggests a number of measures to tackle them.”

“I believe that the report, which is the first output from the Government Data Forum, adds significant value to existing work on smart cities, and makes a positive contribution to the dialogue that we need to have in society about our data.”

Professor Rob Kitchin said:
“To date, the approach to privacy and security in the context of smart cities has been haphazard and uncoordinated. In many cases the issues are paid lip-service. I advocate a much more systematic approach that aims to gain the benefits smart city technologies offer, whilst minimising the potential risks.”

Minister Murphy added:
“Ireland now has the opportunity to show international leadership with the adoption by our cities of an ethical, principle-led approach to data privacy and security that best serves the interests of citizens.”

Smart city technologies generate large quantities of data about people and places, much of it in real-time and in a highly detailed form. Never before has so much information about people – their characteristics, their location and movements, and their activities – been generated. These data can be put to many good uses, but they also raise a number of issues with respect to data privacy, data protection, and data security.

The report details a multi-pronged approach to privacy and security concerns that uses a suite of solutions. While some of these solutions are market driven, and others are technical in nature, the two key main sets of interventions are policy and regulatory focused, and governance and management orientated.

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