AU: South Australia: What does living in a 'Smart City' mean, and what has it got to do with more cameras popping up where you live?
- Published: 24 February 2023
The installation of technology linked with "Smart Cities" has generated controversy in Adelaide from both activists and politicians — but what is a Smart City?
Smart Cities is a term used for a broad range of technologies installed and operated by Australian and international companies for local governments.
In 2016, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull released a Smart Cities Plan, which included a grants program worth $50 million.
The funding was open to Australian council areas, regional and metropolitan, between 2017 and 2020.
The grants funded technology for a range of projects across a number of sectors including public transport and infrastructure — from free public wi-fi through to park benches with recharging stations.
Councils hope the technology will improve its operations and keep communities safe.
What does the technology do?
Smart Cities technology can have many different features, including the ability to check for vacant car parks or sensors to alert the council when waste needs to be disposed of in public bins.
Some projects looked to improve environmental conditions.
A project funded jointly with the Cairns Regional Council aims to reduce urban impacts on the Great Barrier Reef by using sensors in waterways.
An Adelaide's northern suburbs mayor, Gillian Aldridge, said a proposal at the City of Salisbury included the use of motion sensors to help elderly people cross the road.
"Smart Cities is all about using technology to improve the quality of life of residents; this includes things like pedestrian monitoring," Ms Aldridge said.
"It's a program to increase your safety and that includes the ability for us to know what your needs are, and that's not invading your privacy with anything at all."
But she confirmed there would also be an increase of cameras, a move that has copped criticism.
"People have asked us can we please have more cameras," she said.
"It's about illegal dumping of rubbish, it's about bins that tell you when they're full.
"It's about looking after the community the best we can."
Where is Smart Cities technology being installed?
The technology is being rolled out in councils across Australia.
Councils in state capitals have already implemented multiple Smart Cities programs, as well as in large regional cities like Karratha in Western Australia, Townsville in Queensland and Broken Hill in New South Wales.
There were 81 projects funded all up.
Now, councils are self-funding the technology installation themselves.
Where did the term 'Smart Cities' originate?
The smart city concept was first introduced by International Business Machines Corporation [IBM] in the late 1990s.
A UniSA researcher who specialises in Smart Cities, Shadi Shayan, said the concept of a "smart city" is still evolving and there was no universal definition or ranking system for smart cities.
She said globally, different cities are recognised for innovation in their technology.
"Singapore is famous for smart public transport," Ms Shayan said.
"Amsterdam in the Netherlands has a strong focus on sustainability and well-known for smart energy, smart waste management, and alternative modes of transportation.
"Korea's Seoul is recognised for comprehensive network and sensors to collect data to improve urban services."
She said many cities have tried to work to alleviate traffic congestion, as overpopulation has become an issue across the globe.
"Spain and Japan are leaders in using advanced technology to improve public life by reducing traffic congestion, Barcelona has implemented strategies to promote sustainability and improve public safety and Tokyo [is] also implementing traffic management strategies," Ms Shayan said.
Why has there been protests against Smart Cities?
Some councils have copped a backlash about the introduction of the program with some residents raising concerns about CCTV being installed in public areas.
Salisbury councillor Grace Bawden called for transparency before installation.
"I believe there's lots of hidden things that the council's hiding from the public," Ms Bawden said.
"They're not honest about their procedures or policies to the Smart Cities that's being rolled out."
Most councils in Australia, including South Australia's City of Salisbury, have said they do not support facial recognition being used.
But some cameras have the ability to turn on the technology, even if it is not used right away, but some are concerned the technology could be introduced after.
Flinders University Associate Professor Alireaza Jolfaei, who is also the Chair of Security and Privacy Technical Committee, said that many feared how the data would be used.
"Some of the big concerns is the way the gathered information is being used – it's not just the technology itself," Associate Professor Jolfaei said.
"The data itself is a big challenge.
He said he believed there should be clear guidelines for the public to trust the additional CCTV.
"The question is as we gather this large amount data and information about people, what sort of guarantee can we provide to people on how this data is being used?" he said.
"What can we offer to protect sensitive information of people?
"Any technology that comes through needs to go through a cyber audit process."
A University of South Australia study revealed 45 per cent of survey respondents had never heard of the term Smart Cities, while 54 per cent did not understand the concept.
Researcher Shadi Shayan said more education on the technology could be beneficial.
"Many of the people worrying about their privacy don't even know what a smart city is," Ms Shayan said.
"We cannot say we want technology in everything, and we use it for everything, except in public areas.
"I think it's inevitable to move to smart cities."
Could the technology keep our communities safe?
While some Australians are fighting against facial recognition technology, South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens welcomes it.
"There's some cities in the world where they do have [this] facial recognition technology as part of their CCTV network," Commissioner Stevens said.
"It certainly contributes to preventing crime and solving crime."
Autor(en)/Author(s): Shari Hams
Quelle/Source: ABC News, 16.02.2023