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


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We need a smart approach to smart cities

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

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.

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. 



For further information, please contact:

Professor Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University, 087 2795442, rob.kitchin@nuim.ie

Adrienne Harrington, Department of the Taoiseach, 01 619 4000, dataprotection@taoiseach.gov.ie

Notes to Editors: 

  1. See Smart Dublin (www.smartdublin.ie) and Cork Smart Gateway (www.corksmartgateway.ie/).
  1. Smart city initiatives include centralised control rooms that aim to manage transport and emergency services in real-time; passenger information displays at bus-stops and stations; smart meters and grids designed to create more sustainable energy consumption; compactor bins and the dynamic routing and collection of waste; high-definition CCTV that uses facial and automatic number plate recognition; and a plethora of location-aware smartphone apps.
  1. The suggested policy and regulatory response includes a revised set of fair information principles, which presently underpin privacy laws globally, and that are fit for purpose given the vast increase in data generation. This would be accompanied by the adoption of privacy-by-design and security-by-design, which build privacy and security into the design of new technologies from their inception to actively protect citizens, rather than trying to deal with them post-development or ignoring them.  In addition, there would be education and training programmes aimed at the general public, school children, local authority staff, and companies.
  1. The governance and management solutions in the report take four forms that work in concert with each other:

                                 i.            A stakeholder advisory board that formulates a smart city strategy and recommends privacy and security targets. 

                               ii.            A smart city governance, ethics and security oversight committee that oversees the day-to-day work of the municipality and ensures that the strategy is being implemented and city initiatives are meeting legal and regulatory requirements. 

                              iii.            A core privacy/security team that undertakes privacy and security assessments and works across city departments and with companies delivering smart city initiatives to ensure compliance. 

                             iv.            A computer emergency response team that tackles cybersecurity incidents.

  1. Together these solutions outlined in the report aim to provide a balanced, pragmatic approach that enables the rollout of smart city initiatives, but in a way that protects peoples’ privacy, curtails data breaches, and tackles cybersecurity issues. 
  1. The “Getting smarter about smart cities: Improving data privacy and data security” report is available here: http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Publications/Publications_2016/Smart_Cities_Report_January_2016.pdf

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