Qualcomm: 5G Is Coming In 2019, And It’s Going To Change Your Life

This is a Qualcomm press release. It is a leader in 5G technology, providing “innovation in autonomous driving, smart cities, social good, and beyond.” It promises Utopia yet delivers Scientific Dictatorship. However, it is true that 5G is going to change your life! ⁃ TN Editor

It’s hard to imagine life without smart phones and mobile devices. But it wasn’t until 3G that smart phones began to resemble the user experience now so ingrained in our daily lives. Since then, faster network speeds have been one of key enablers of the creation and widespread use of cloud technology enabling transformative services like ride-sharing apps, HD entertainment, and video calls that have become mainstream.

While 3G and 4G powered these services, 5G represents another connectivity leap beginning this year.

It is envisioned – per ITU-R’s IMT-2020 requirements — to support blazing-fast speeds of up to 20 Gbps, low latency as low as 1 millisecond, and 100x more capacity as compared to 4G, 5G is setting the stage for immediate improvements to existing experiences as well as the development of new, yet-to-be-imagined technological advancements.

Here’s a look at the change coming: 

Everything will get faster

From day 1, 5G is designed to make virtually everything faster, providing fiber-like speeds to support insatiable demand for unlimited data. You should notice improved download speeds, superior quality video streaming and virtually instant cloud access in flagship 5G devices launching in 2019. And it should be easier than ever to download your favorite binge-worthy series at the airport or deliver massive files to colleagues when you’re on the go.

Instant access to cloud

5G brings extraordinary low latency. Latency is the time between data request and its delivery. 5G is purpose-built and designed to deliver entirely new real-time experiences we’ve never had before. We expect our new smartphones, tablets, and always-connected PCs* will be able to utilize 5G’s lower latency connectivity, higher capacity, in addition to its super-fast speeds, for the next level of cloud services.

Smooth real-time multiplayer gaming

Once online/cloud gaming make it easier for multi-player collaboration, then, live-stream gameplay with rapid map and level downloads will get a boost. Think of first-person shooter game where latency can be the difference between your character’s life and death.

Transformation to the Wireless Edge

As virtually everything gets connected in this new era, realizing 5G’s full potential requires transformation of the wireless edge. An architecture of distributed intelligence where intelligence that deals with immediacy is moved toward the edge (closer to or on the devices) while processing-intensive functions are kept in the cloud. 5G is enabled with the help of Qualcomm’s foundational inventions and mobile platforms, and is engineered to provide the high-speed low-latency link that connects them together.

One great use case of 5G and edge computing is extended reality (XR). Enough processing is kept in the headset while offloading nearly everything else, including rendering, to the cloud. With your 360-degree views effortlessly synchronized with your movements, XR experience is intended to feel immediate and photorealistic. Simply put, this could  transform your experience from passive watching to living the moment.

Another use case is AR shopping. This is just beyond utility, it can make the shopping experience more fun, with the ability to virtually decorate with friends or family. An experience that can allow you to see how a couch will fit in your home – try it before you buy type of experience.

What’s next can only be imagined

Qualcomm, an inventor of breakthrough technologies for wireless, is focused on enterprise as well as consumer use cases. The next phase of 5G is designed to bring large-scale changes for the enterprise and business sides, allowing for innovation in autonomous driving, smart cities, social good, and beyond.

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Siemens: Forever Pushing Smart Grid And Smart Cities

Technocracy-minded Siemens is a global leader in “smart technology” and has launched a massive propaganda campaign to sell their wares no matter what the problem. Siemens is the hammer and the whole world is its nail. ⁃ TN Editor

A new Siemens report has found electrification is a big priority for cities in North America and will continue to be emphasized, although leaders will need to make tough decisions to modify their electric grids to support the change.

The report, entitled “Technology Pathways for Creating Smarter, More Prosperous and Greener Cities,” used the company’s City Performance Tool to pull in data from 70 different areas of city life. It has assessed 40 cities globally, of which 11 are in North America.

“Our grids across cities are not particularly stable and not really capable of taking on this level of power, so we have to start understanding what all the factors are around making this transition and working with all the key players: city leaders, legislators and others that have to make the tough decisions about how you make that transition and make it properly,” Martin Powell, Siemens’ global head of urban development, told Smart Cities Dive.

The electrification trend is one that is gathering momentum across cities, including in transportation. At a conference this month hosted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), General Motors’ vice president of North American Policy Dan Turton said the electrifying of cars and the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) is “going forward anyway,” regardless of what anyone else says, including those who favor propping up the fossil fuel industry.

Powell warned that while electrification will help cities cut emissions in areas like buildings and transportation — the major causes of pollution and emissions — it will have a “huge amount of demand on power” and require modernization and better use of data to cope. “Cities were built when populations were a third or a quarter of what they are in most of these big cities today,” he said. “We’ve always bolted on things and expanded systems, so it’s very difficult to get all the efficiency you need out of a system that does that.”

And as vehicles and other pollution sources electrify, Powell said they should work on data-driven and modernized systems to help reliability. Such issues have plagued electric buses at times, so while electrifying fleets has been a bit point of emphasis for American cities, they must also balance that priority with ensuring there are fewer maintenance problems. That, Powell said, could make this country a world leader. “The U.S. has an opportunity to deliver that future but in a way that works properly,” he said.

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5G: Powering Smart Cities And The Fourth Industrial Revolution

While the 4th Industrial Revolution has mostly been rhetoric up to this point, experts are now saying “5G literally has the potential to start the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Indeed, it will be revolutionary and disruptive. ⁃ TN Editor

The arrival of 5G – the next generation of wireless networks – unleashes an opportunity for smart cities to take full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where everything that can be connected will be and the full force of transformative technologies like artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles will permeate where we live, work and play.

What 5G delivers that 4G and earlier networks cannot are the blazing speeds and ultra-low latencies (data transfer delays) that allow massive amounts of data to be relayed between connected devices, systems, and infrastructure in near real time. In other words, 5G enables the super-fast response and data analysis that can allow driverless cars, cloud-connected traffic control, and other sensor-laden smart city applications to truly thrive.

Craig Silliman, executive vice president of public policy and general counsel, recently outlined why streamlining the evolution at the city level is critical.

Forward-looking city leaders are preparing now for the game-changing technology that is just starting to roll out in select U.S. markets. They realize 5G could impact most every aspect of city operations and service delivery: optimizing performance of power and water grids, trash collection, and transit; transforming public health and education; curbing pollution; and streamlining disaster management.

Those scenarios, of course, reflect what is known about 5G capabilities today – and we’re only in the first chapter.

What if trash trucks could do double-duty as pothole detectors as they cruise city streets? Or what about the opportunity for public schools to give students compelling new ways to explore the world and apply it to their lives?

Franklin-Hodge, currently a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, also believes 5G can trigger social benefits like digital inclusion, job creation, and economic development. He expects, for example, that 5G services will help historically under-connected communities attract new businesses.

Clearly, for smart cities and their citizens, the 5G stakes are high, and the first step is to get in the game.

Making cities smarter and safer

Sacramento will be one of the first U.S. cities to demonstrate the integration of 5G networks with smart infrastructure, data analytics, and the cloud. Through a creative partnership with Verizon, a number of neighborhoods in California’s capital city went live with the company’s 5G Home service – the first in the nation – in October 2018.

City officials see huge upsides in the new technology, from changing lives to changing history.

Chief information officer Maria MacGunigal expects 5G will change the technology landscape in Sacramento forever.  Mayor Darrell Steinberg takes it further. “When you look at this over the long term,” he said, “5G literally has the potential to start the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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The Technologies Building The Smart Cities Of The Future

Smart Cities are being designed by Big Tech companies using failed urban planning designs from the 1940s and 50s, and they are a recipe for disaster. When the Public-Private Partnerships fail, the municipalities will be left with the hubris. ⁃ TN Editor

By 2050, 68 percent of the total global population will live in cities, according to the United Nations. By then, the world population will be 9.7 billion and 11.2 billion by 2100.

The updated report from the United Nations states that currently, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. That means around 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050.

India, China, and Nigeria combined will represent 35 percent of the projected urban population growth between 2018 and 2050. Cities must prepare for the population explosion, planning accordingly in anticipation to the times to come.

Over 700 cities from around the world presented their smart city projects at the Smart City Congress and Expo in Barcelona, Spain this year. It is expected that the number of cities adopting new technologies to help them become smarter is going to grow pretty fast in the next few years.

A smart city is a city where urban planning is conceived with the ultimate goal of connecting everything to each other using state-of-the-art technologies. This connectivity, which creates a vast amount of data, is then used to improve city services and infrastructure as well as improving citizens environment and quality of life.

Because smart and sustainable city urban planning affects everyone, it’s crucial that we know and understand what the technologies involved in building smart cities are and how they can help achieve the ultimate goal of urban transformation into the truly smart cities of the future.

5G technologies

Without a powerful network, nothing could be possible in a smart city. 5G technology powers the next level of connectivity for industries and society. Service providers are actively working on 5G technologies and how they are going to power all smart city networks. Without 5G, none of the other smart city technologies mentioned below would be possible.

Sensors

Sensors are embedded in every physical device that makes up the Internet of Things ecosystem. From your smartwatch that counts your daily steps to connected cars, everything in the smart home, and traffic lights.

Most of everything you are in touch with today has sensors collecting and transmitting data to the cloud. The network of connected things, or Internet of Things (IoT) interconnects all the devices making them work together.

There is a variety of different sensors used in IoT. Here are some:

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is what keeps everything in the city connected. It’s the spine of the city which allows each movement and connects each dot.

IoT offers advanced connectivity of smart devices, wearables, smart home appliances and services, medical devices, connected vehicles, smart entertainment, smart buildings, smart public mobility, smart agriculture, smart city infrastructure, and all systems and services that go beyond machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

Everything that is a part of a smart city needs to be connected to each other so they can communicate with each other as part of a whole. The IoT provides the body of communicating devices that provides seamless communication providing smart solutions to every situation and problems.

Geospatial Technology

The right way to build urban planning for smart cities requires accuracy and the analysis and use of detailed data. This is exactly the role that Geospatial or Geolocation technologies play. They provide the underlying foundation upon which every smart city solution can be built.

Geospatial technology provides location and the necessary framework for collecting and analyzing data, transforming such data in a way that facilitates software-based solutions around smart city infrastructure.

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Brookings: Four Strategies On How To Deliver Smart City Vision

Elitist think-tank Brookings Institution has long been closely aligned with the Trilateral Commission, and it has pushed Trilateral policy since inception. In this case, Smart Cities are in view, which ultimately portend scientific dictatorship. ⁃ TN Editor

  1. Promote deeper engagement with residents and businesses.Building a smarter city requires the trust and support of the people who live there. Although public trust in local governments remains high, the plummet in trust in the federal government over the past decade suggests that trust is never guaranteed. Active local engagement can ensure the public’s ideas and concerns are heard and addressed throughout any design and execution process. Engaging citizens not only has inherent value, but also helps garner trust and buy-in throughout the process. You can’t plan city and metropolitan futures in private office rooms; building a smart city requires engagement.
  2. Intentionally build strong, formal collaborations between public, private, and civic actors. If metro areas are collections of people, businesses, and institutions, we must recognize municipalities shouldn’t always run point. The city of Atlanta collaborates with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and its corporate partners, Georgia Tech, and other research and advocacy organizations to make good on commitments like SmartATL. Critically, Georgia Tech is pursuing statewide efforts to scale digitalization strategies, joining a small cohort of other states like Illinois that are exploring the same concepts. Metro areas must find ways to leverage local corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit expertise to both inform long-term planning and establish sustainable efforts focused on digital tech.
  3. Modernize governments’ approach to data collection and use.Recent developments in technology have exponentially increased the private sector’s ability to collect, store, and analyze data, while the government lags further and further behind. Private companies like Google and AT&T better understand how people are using public infrastructure than the government itself, while computing models move to the cloud. However, the incentives for private-public data sharing may not align, procurement models are outdated, and public staffing capacities struggle to compete. This tide will only grow more intense as next-level technologies, including artificial intelligence, put new pressures on local governments. To better keep up, state and local governments will need to think creatively about how to more effectively build internal capacity.
  4. Establish new performance measures and goals based on collective outcomes. It is promising that some smart city actors now lead with long-term planning when designing local programs and investment strategies. But to deliver on what are often complex outcomes—promoting social inclusion, reducing environmental waste, and growing entrepreneurial ecosystems—the public sector and its partners need new sets of performance measures and data to reflect the challenges of today. Old measures like roadway congestion or metro-scale innovation are not enough. New measures should address questions such as: Why are people driving from a certain neighborhood at a certain time? Which neighborhoods struggle to build successful startup businesses, and which social communities are left out? Performance measurement must evolve with the times.

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Dumb Cities Not Smart: Neglecting Security Promises Cybercrime Jungle

Smart City gulags are not the future that America wants, but Technocrats are racing to establish dominance before the public can react. In the process, security is being neglected, which will open entire cities to waves of cybercrime. ⁃ TN Editor

We are in an era of intelligent and urgent urban innovation. Our homes are connected, our streets are thriving labyrinths of interconnectivity, and our businesses are a hive of data streaming and surveillance.

Communities are now emerging as sophisticated centres of technical excellence, prompting micro and macro revolutions in virtually every aspect of our lives. Across the world, digital “smartness” is either being activated, enhanced, evangelised or considered a transformative option. Is this trend a good one?

As the popularity and inevitability of smart cities expand, so too does a cybercriminal’s opportunistic attack surface. Are we now putting the public’s data and infrastructure at an unprecedented risk? Are we the authors of a 21st century tale of two cities where one is hyperconnected and vulnerable and the other overly cautious and developmentally moribund? More importantly, what the Dickens can we do to get the balance right?

The race to evolve

Urban business-as-usual will not work. Population growth and dwindling resources are driving mass migrations to the worlds’ cities, and present infrastructures are incapable of pre-empting and adapting to the consequences – much less achieving optimal, equitable living environments in the long term.

One of the smart cities’ most compelling promises is the capacity to address traditional problems with data-driven incision, mining insights from countless sensors, interactions, and behaviours. There are numerous associated economic benefits to this technological shift. According to a recent whitepaper by ABI Research, worldwide smart city technologies could unlock more than $20 trillion in additional economic benefits in the next decade.

Europe has big ambitions to take advantage. 2017 European Parliament research claims that the region already has 240 cities at over 100K in a population with some smart city features in place (i.e. technology to improve energy use, transport systems or other infrastructure). By the end of 2019, the Smart Cities and Communities European Innovation Partnership predicts there will be 300 smart cities in play.

A future of symbiotically connected communities, services, and processes is undeniably an admirable vision. However, with all the pressures to move at pace, there are growing concerns that cybersecurity risks are inadequately anticipated or managed.

Unfortunately, many devices, systems, and technologies powering today’s smart city dream are still being developed without appropriate security architectures or threat mitigation solutions. This short-sightedness can cause a raft of vulnerabilities leading to serious issues threatening livelihoods and, in some cases, life itself. A hacker commandeering a smart parking meter may be a nuisance but a cybercriminal infiltrating a nuclear plant could cause cataclysmic repercussions.

Lessons learned

At this year’s Black Hat conference, IBM’s X-Force Red Team examined existing municipality technologies to determine the possibility of “supervillain” style attacks.

Researches focused on four common devices and found 17 vulnerabilities, of which nine were deemed critical. One European country was using a vulnerable device to detect radiation. In the US, it was a system monitoring traffic control. The vulnerabilities in question on both occasions were not complex — the vendors simply failed to implement basic security measures.

To spook us even more, IBM’s researchers went on to simulate an attack on devices that monitor water levels in dams. In less than a minute, they were able to flood surrounding areas. The simulated hack was on a commonly used piece of smart city tech and was easy to hijack causing widespread mayhem.

Architecting the future

The U.N. predicts that two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in densely packed megacities by 2030. This means a mass of technology coming online fast, especially with the advent of 5G, and this could potentially fuel boundless IoT fantasies and realities.

Business leaders, tech disruptors, developers, service providers, and planners need to ramp up collaboration with industry regulators and ecosystem partners urgently to ensure appropriate rollouts of secure, seamless networks and devices. The tech industry at large should also do more to ensure the principle of ‘security-by-design’ is embraced throughout the entire infrastructure development ecosystem. Furthermore, end-to-end security has to improve, including tighter authentication of users as well as enforced policies for all communication paths. At the same time, service providers have to enhance their privacy-focused data encryption capabilities with the latest advanced software.

In summary, we need governments, city planners, and business leaders to start heeding the warnings signs of growing cybercrime and include cybersecurity experts at all stages, from design and construction to infrastructural management and beyond. We all want smarter cities, but we need to get wiser at navigating the threat landscape to stay streets ahead of cybercriminals.

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Google’s Sidewalk Labs: Smart Cities For Dumb Humans

Ann Cavoukian blasted Google when she resigned: “I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance. Your personal information, your privacy is critical. It is not just a fundamental human right. It forms the foundation of our freedom.” ⁃ TN Editor

An interesting thing happened recently in the ongoing saga that is Google’s attempt, through its subsidiary Sidewalk Labs, to build a private, fully surveilled microcity inside of Toronto. The privacy expert Google had hired to assuage concerns over the dangers of a neighborhood built to collect data on its inhabitants, has stepped down.

A year into Google’s efforts to build a mini “smart city” on Toronto’s waterfront, Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner for the province of Ontario, announced that she was leaving her role as a consultant for the project. “I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance,” she explained in a letter. “Your personal information, your privacy is critical,” Cavoukian has said. “It is not just a fundamental human right. It forms the foundation of our freedom.”

It’s commendable, this repudiation of Google on behalf of fundamental rights but also rather astounding if we’re being honest—and charitable—to imagine a privacy expert believing that Google had ever planned to build anything other than a smart city of surveillance. Cavoukian’s involvement in the Quayside project, named for the Toronto neighborhood where the proposed neighborhood will be built, had focused on the importance of masking the identity of people connected to the harvested data. “I felt I had no choice because I had been told by Sidewalk Labs that all of the data collected will be de-identified at source,” she said.

This is how Google makes money: It collects data on people, places, and patterns of activity, on which it then runs advanced algorithms designed by some of the smartest and most innovative coders and engineers in the world, to create targeted advertising or to optimize efficiencies in processes. The whole digital economy runs on the creation of these information monopolies. The technologist Jaron Lanier calls them “siren servers;” the networked data collections extracted and controlled by companies like Google and Facebook that, like earlier resource monopolies, produce massive concentrations of wealth and power.

An article from August in Canada’s Globe and Mail, details how the “smart city” design optimizes and monetizes the information it collects and why that might actually be a net cost to the city in which it operates.

The project is intended to be a neighbourhood with advanced technology—for instance, using sensors to capture information about users’ activities—which means that intellectual property is a crucial part of its value. To some, that value could be enormous as cities around the world make better use of data in urban planning. Sidewalk Labs envisions countless possibilities, from robotic waste-sorting systems to predictive heat-and-electricity-use programs.

Everything from the design of Quayside’s buildings, to the unique ways it collects data, to the further innovations that could be developed by harnessing so much data, has the potential to generate IP that could be licensed globally—or become the source of further innovation by Canadian companies.

Toronto resident and open government advocate Bianca Wylie has been warning about the need for more robust governmental checks on Google’s smart city project from the very beginning. Wylie, the  co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, describes her role as an “advocate for the public good in the innovation economy.” Last November she appeared on the popular Canadian TV program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and got into a memorable exchange with the recently resigned Cavoukian where she laid out why the kind of individual privacy protections Google was offering and has since proven unwilling to provide, were inadequate and unrealistic. In an emailed statement to Tablet, Wylie said this about Cavoukian’s resignation:

Fearing the collapse of the project, Sidewalk Labs issued a panicked data proposal knowing that it was out of step with Ann’s position. They pretend to engage people but continue to steamroll anyone in their path. We need a horizontal approach to data governance and data policies because data has many economic and noneconomic effects.  By focusing only on privacy, we can find ourselves plugging just one of many holes, which is in effect plugging nothing.

Because siren servers operated by companies like Google depend on access to bulk data—the largest possible quantities of raw information—masking the identity of the people behind the data, while not irrelevant, borders on a distraction. The raw data is like the grass a cattle rancher depends on to graze a herd. It’s not ultimately what’s being sold, and customers are only interested in their cuts of beef, but it’s indispensable to the final product. Similarly, all the smart algorithms and advanced artificial intelligence applications to set the temperature in your house, deliver the right search results, find the best sales, warn you of impending health complications, or save energy costs at your business—every optimized facet of our big optimized world depends on getting that data. It’s the fuel on which the whole thing runs.

“The 21st-century knowledge-based and data-driven economy is all about IP and data. Smart cities are the new battlefront for big tech because they serve as the most promising hotbed for additional intangible assets that hold the next trillion dollars to add to their market capitalizations,” wrote Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, earlier this month in an article about Quayside.

Of course, profit is what’s in it for the tech companies pushing for smart cities but how about the rest of us? We get competent governance, stable polities, and the effective provision of basic services. Better living through optimization and smart cities that promise to lower the transaction costs and inevitable frictions of human existence.

Democratic governments think they can hire out for the basic service they’re supposed to provide, effectively subcontracting the day to day functions of running a city and providing municipal services. Well, they’re right, they can, but of course they’ll be advertising why they’re not really necessary and in the long run putting themselves out of a job. For us regular citizens the appeal is even simpler: We want our trash picked up on time, clean streets, reliable public transportation, super fast deliveries of exactly the right products. When our elected governments can’t get even the simplest things done, it seems reasonable to turn to the optimizers par excellence in Silicon Valley. Just ask any New Yorker who counts on the subway whether, over the past year of incessant service delays, breakdowns and buck-passing by city and state government, they wouldn’t have traded some privacy for efficiency, given up some democracy for a bit of benign authoritarianism, if it only made the damn trains run on time. The tradeoff comes in the loss of power over the institutions we have to live inside. The mayor may be a bum who you’d like to throw out but you get the chance to do that every so often, to hold your city council accountable, vote on new laws and generally participate in the whole motley gamut of representative governance.

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Quayside: Google’s New Smart City Is A Privacy Nightmare

As Google applies its data management skills on a real city, Quayside, it is turning into a privacy nightmare. What it needs to do, it will not do because its prime directive is to collect identifiable data. De-identified data is totally useless to Technocrats at Google. ⁃ TN Editor

Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet division focused on smart cities, is caught in a battle over information privacy. The team has lost its lead expert and consultant, Ann Cavoukian, over a proposed data trust that would approve and manage the collection of information inside Quayside, a conceptual smart neighborhood in Toronto. Cavoukian, the former information and privacy commissioner for Ontario, disagrees with the current plan because it would give the trust power to approve data collection that isn’t anonymized or “de-identified” at the source. “I had a really hard time with that,” she told Engadget. “I just couldn’t… I couldn’t live with that.”

Cavoukian’s exit joins the mounting skepticism over Sidewalk Labs and the urban data that will be harvested through Quayside, the first section of a planned smart district called Sidewalk Toronto. Sidewalk Labs has always maintained that the neighborhood will follow ‘privacy by design‘, a framework by Cavoukian that was first published in the mid-1990s. The approach ensures that privacy is considered at every part of the design process, balancing the rights of citizens with the access required to create smarter, more efficient and environmentally friendly living spaces.

Sidewalk Labs has been debating how to adopt the framework since it was selected as a Quayside planning partner last year. The team has held countless meetings with the public and technology experts, including Cavoukian, to explain its thinking and ensure everyone’s concerns are considered in the Master Innovation and Development Plan due early next year. (The plan is effectively a final pitch or proposal that will need to be approved by the City of Toronto before any building work can go ahead.)

Privacy, of course, has been a constant source of discussion. Some Torontonians are nervous because of Google’s reputation as an advertising business and the vague information Sidewalk has given about data collection so far. Sidewalk Labs, though, can’t be specific because it hasn’t finalized anything — it’s still researching and considering its options.

Still, progress is being made. Sidewalk Labs published some initial proposals for data governance in Quayside last week. The bottom line: It wants someone else to handle the issue. The company suggested an independent trust that would oversee all data collection in the neighborhood. If any company, including Sidewalk Labs, wanted to set up citizen-tracking hardware or services, they would need to file an application, called a Responsible Data Impact Assessment (RDIA), with the trust first. Some applications could be “self-certified,” or quickly approved, while others would require careful consideration by the group.

Which sounds great, right?

Sidewalk Labs says all of its applications would follow Cavoukian’s privacy by design framework. But here’s the rub — the trust would also have the power to approve applications that don’t anonymize data at source. In its proposal document, the Alphabet-owned team gives a theoretical example involving video cameras in public parks. The application, Sidewalk Labs says, couldn’t be self-certified because it involves personal information. It could be approved, however, on the condition that the video footage is only used for park improvement, and that the files are destroyed on a rolling seven-day basis. The company in question would also need to erect signs near the cameras and add their locations to a public registry.

That wiggle room concerns Cavoukian. She believes all Quayside data should be de-identified at source to maintain citizen privacy. “The minute you say, ‘well it’s going to be their choice,’ you can bet more and more data will be collected in personally identifiable form,” she said. “Because that’s the treasure trove. That’s what everybody wants.”

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Privacy Expert Resigns From Alphabet-Backed Smart City Project Over Surveillance Concerns

Quayside and Sidewalk Labs have been discussed here before. It was to be a ‘Smart City of Privacy’ but that was a myth from the beginning. A hat-tip to privacy expert Dr. Ann Cavoukian for walking out on them and exposing their deception.  ⁃ TN Editor

A privacy expert tasked with helping a new smart city development protect the data privacy of residents has resigned over concerns that her guidelines would be largely ignored.

“I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance,” Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner of Ontario, wrote in her resignation letter from Google sister company Sidewalk Labs, reports Global News.

A year ago, Waterfront Toronto enlisted Alphabet-backed Sidewalk Labs to create a plan for a smart city neighborhood in the city’s Quayside development. As a consultant for the endeavor, Cavoukian developed a plan called Privacy by Design that was meant to ensure that citizens’ personal data would be protected.

But the project has faced skepticism and criticism from the start. In an op-ed published earlier this month, former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie referred to the development as “a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues.”

Cavoukian told the Global News that her resignation was intended as a “strong statement” on the project’s approach to data privacy. “I felt I had no choice because I had been told by Sidewalk Labs that all of the data collected will be de-identified at source,” she told Global News. But then, at a Thursday meeting, Cavoukian reportedly realized such anonymization protocols could not be guaranteed. She told the Candian news outlet that Sidewalk Labs revealed at that meeting that their organization could commit to her guidelines, but other involved groups would not be required to abide by them.

Cavoukian realized third parties could possibly have access to identifiable data gathered through the project. “When I heard that, I said, ‘I’m sorry. I can’t support this. I have to resign because you committed to embedding privacy by design into every aspect of your operation,’” she told Global News.

In a statement shared with Gizmodo and other outlets, Sidewalk Labs explained that at the meeting with Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory, “it became clear that Sidewalk Labs would play a more limited role in near-term discussions about a data governance framework at Quayside.” Sidewalk Labs stated it has committed to Cavoukian’s suggested guidelines.

“Though that question is settled, the question of whether other companies involved in the Quayside project would be required to do so is unlikely to be worked out soon, and may be out of Sidewalk Labs’ hands,” the Sidewalk Labs statement read. “For these reasons and others, Dr. Cavoukian has decided that it does not make sense to continue working as a paid consultant for Sidewalk Labs.”

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Technobabble And Technocrats: The Rise Of The Smart City

Technocrats are social engineers and not urban designers, but they somehow think they are more qualified to determine the fate of millions. If a tiny Mexican town can stop the Technocrat steamroller, then any city can as well. ⁃ TN Editor

In cities around the world, the drone of jackhammers is being met with the clacking of keyboards and the hum of computers tasked with building a new generation of metropolises, built from silicon rather than concrete. A new breed of brash and flash utopias from Masdar to Songdo is already emerging across the Far and Middle East, fueled by petrodollars and double-digit growth rates. However, the rather more prosaic retrofitting of sensors and fiber broadband in places such Bristol and Glasgow offers a more illuminating – if less immediately obvious – view of our future. Can these sci-fi visions deliver on promises of clockwork cities where public services such as transport, sanitation and health work harmoniously to the benefit of all?

Surrounding these developments is the nebulous concept of the smart city, a catch-all term encompassing any digital involvement in our analog world that promises to reshape our relationship with our environment. In an effort to wrap our heads around some of the opportunities and threats these technologies represent, The Drum caught up with Tony Mulhall, associate director of the planning and development professional group at the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). He says: “We want to make people aware of the link between the components underpinning big data and the better use of property assets and infrastructure from a management, construction and investment point of view.

“Purpose-built cities are an interesting phenomenon because cities haven’t typically arrived in that form. I know we’ve built New Towns, but this type of new city, highly enabled technologically, is different. It’s very interesting to look at plans of Masdar carefully arranged on a square grid, but beyond the square nothing happens. The smart city as an individual construct is only responding to a minority need.”

With the populations of the world’s largest cities exploding, the World Economic Forum calculates that Delhi will be vying with Tokyo for the title of the world’s most populous city by 2030. Pressure is building on authorities to ensure that infrastructure development can keep pace with demographic growth. Mulhall adds: “The challenge is more about how you get the benefits of smart city technologies in very impoverished places. You have huge populations turning up at cities all over the world with no plans to accommodate them.”

In order to rise to these challenges, organizations such as RICS are increasingly finding themselves in the company of technology giants such as IBM and Accenture, as much as architects and engineers. Mulhall observes: “Many of these tech companies have actually had a really long association with cities. Siemens, for example, has been supplying underground systems and traffic lights.” What is changing, Mulhall finds, is a democratization of much of the information previously compartmentalized between different sectors, with a much broader categorization of data, knowledge and understanding now possible.

Mulhall continues: “The architectural community is at a critical point, in the sense that we now have all this data. But just because we have the opportunity doesn’t mean we find better solutions. We had a lot of data in the 1960s about how to build fantastic cities, but we ended up making a leap from that analytical information to solutions without a proper insight into what people really needed. At the bottom of architectural propositions such as Songdo and Masdar, someone is designing spaces that people need to occupy.

“The other area is transportation. If people are moving other people around without their feet touching the ground, that has huge implications for human wellbeing. It may be a smart city but it’s not very healthy.”

In Britain, Bristol has overtaken London as the country’s leading ‘smart city’, according to Huawei’s second UK Smart Cities Index. This is owed, in part, to the creation of an operations center that unifies emergency service responses and boasts a traffic management system in control of more than 200 sets of traffic lights.

Pete Anderson, head of the city’s operations center, says: “There are five pillars of a smart city in the form of energy, public space, transportation, water and health. That is born out of what we can do with data and how that can be used to inform the flow of traffic, or more efficient use of energy and distribution.

“In Bristol we’re looking at the use of data and how that is moved around, whether wifi or physical fiber. And with private sector partner First Bus, we now have a platform that pulls together data from public spaces, CCTV, alarm monitoring and traffic into one space. All of a sudden we have the ability to be intelligent with decision making from what we see and hear, as well as data.”

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