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UK public express concerns over security and privacy in relation to smart cities

A recent survey conducted on the topic of 'smart cities' in the UK - has unearthed some surprising results. Over 67% of those surveyed felt that the implementation of 'smart cities' was a bad use of public finances - and also expressed concerns over the privacy implications of 'smart cities'.

Broadband Genie, the organization responsible for carrying out the survey disclosed details of their research in which they surveyed 2030 British citizens. While the majority of those surveyed felt it was a waste of money, 69% of respondent's relayed deep fears in relation to security and privacy, concerned at the amount of personal data required in order to fuel the running of a smart city.

What also became clearly evident from the survey was the low level of awareness in relation to 'smart cities' - as only 10% of those surveyed knew about the UK's current smart city initiatives being carried out all over the region. A number of schemes are underway, and in many instances have already been completed.

The 'smart city' movement is one of the most exciting global initiatives being carried out by governments all over the world - and the UK like so many other governments are embracing the movement and are keen to expand on the projects already being established.

Editor for Broadband Genie, Matt Powell indicated that the 'low level' of awareness around 'smart cities' may go a long way to explaining the first two results of the survey.

He said, "We would attribute much of it to a lack of trust when it comes to securing and using private data. There is a growing awareness of just how much information can be gathered about our daily lives, and how it could be used to restrict our freedom and invade our privacy. What we see is that a vast majority of people do not have any faith in the ability of private or public organizations to store and use this data in a safe or responsible manner."

Powell obviously understands the fantastic gains of implementing smarter cities and how it will significantly improve the lives of its residents, but admitted that authorities face two major obstacles when it comes to winning over the public in the UK.

The first of which is justifying significant investment in smart city initiative at a time when trust in the NHS is at an all-time low and other services in desperate need of financial assistance. The other is the need to reassure the public that their privacy is not at risk and the data will not be misused.

A security advocate at Alien-Vault said that sceptics had a right to be concerned, and added that while smart cities is a great idea, but claimed that there has been nothing provided which gives confidence that the topic of security is a part of the smart city agenda.

He said: "Smart cities sound like a great idea in theory. There are undoubtedly many benefits of automation and smart capabilities. However, currently, nothing gives confidence that security is thought-out or implemented as part of the smart cities. While all new technology has maturation period, smart technology "is still in its infancy when it comes to security and rolling out these technologies on a large scale across cities can have potentially disastrous impact on the security and privacy of citizens."