As a smart citizen considering if you want your city to be smart and your data to be shared, there are two sides of the coin: benefits/opportunities and costs/risks.
What's in it For Me? Benefits and Opportunities
As much as you love your city, there are likely things that frustrate you too. Overcrowded and inconvenient public transit. Increasing road congestion and expensive parking. Rising rents and mortgages. Disruptive construction and noisy streets. Wasted food, energy and resources. Areas of the city you don't feel safe. Changes to your neighbourhood you feel powerless to influence.
Imagine a city with more affordable places to live; safer and more vibrant places to enjoy; safer and more seamless trips from A to B; more efficient use of resources; and more ways to participate and have your voice heard. Smart cities that make use of responsible data sharing can improve your everyday quality of life.
What's the Catch? Costs and Risks
You're likely aware that all the free apps on your smart phone are not really free. When you download the app, there are terms and conditions you consent to that lets the company track personal information, such as your location and use of the app. What's happening to your personal data? Who has access to it for what uses? Who is making money from your data? How is your data secured against cyber threats? Can you request access to your data? Can you ask the company to delete it?
A smart city raises many of the same questions about the privacy and security of your data. One difference between a smart city and a smart phone is that a phone has an off switch. It's a lot harder to block the city from collecting your data as you go about your daily life.
As so many of the objects in our cities become embedded with sensors, computer chips and internet connections, it becomes impossible to consent to or even know about all of the data that is collected about you and how it is used. The modern city is placing an impossible burden on you to make decisions about all of your data.
What's the Answer? What a Civic Digital Trust Does For You
A civic digital trust provides a legal structure so that a group of people can look out for your interests living in a city in the digital age. They make decisions on your behalf about what data can and can't be collected and shared for what purposes. They make sure the data is kept safe and secure. They check the computer code that runs on the data to make sure it doesn't discriminate against or cause harm to anyone.
You will have a representative on the civic digital trust you can contact to share your hopes and concerns.
If the civic digital trust ever causes you harm by neglecting their duties, you can seek remedies in a court of law.
If you think the world needs innovative solutions to improve people's lives, and you also care about your privacy and security, we would encourage you to read this Primer to learn more about civic digital trusts.