22nd Century City Living

Is Big Brother Watching?


Some people believe that the more we adopt technology, the less freedom we will have. When we adopt certain types of technology, we can gather much more information than ever before. Fitness trackers can gather more information about your health. Traffic cameras can help keep vehicles flowing safely while keeping pedestrians safer and deterring crime. It ends up being a lot of data and people often wonder what is being done with it.

One thing that governments on city, state, and federal levels is keep the public informed on what data they are collecting. If there are privacy concerns, the general public should not only know what is going on but also if there are ways to opt-out. The government also needs to share what the information they are collecting will be used for. If they put a camera on a street corner, they should let the public know if it has been installed because it is a high crime area or if it is to stop people from running a traffic light. When cities hand out smart thermostats, they should let the public know that they will use the information to maintain the stability of the power grid. People will be much more willing to accept and embrace smart options when they feel that they are being informed as to what is being done with the knowledge and that it happens with approval.

Another thing that helps people get onto the smart system bandwagon is knowing how they will benefit from it. Is it going to save them money? Will it help them save time? People adopt changes more readily if they know that they will personally be getting something out of it. It will all depend on how the technology is marketed to people – they will want to know that it was not expensive and what it will be doing for them. Will it cut down their wait times at places like the DMV? Will it improve response times for emergency services? You can see how people would be happy to adopt some changes if it means good things for them.

Something else that can ease peoples’ minds is by providing a timeline when the measures are temporary or part of a pilot program. If people know that there will be traffic monitoring for three months in order to determine how to improve the flow of traffic, it might not seem like such an invasion of privacy. If they know that healthcare data will be collected anonymously for a year to ensure that there are adequate specialists to meet the area’s needs, they may be able to see the bigger picture and not see it as an invasion of privacy.

There are a lot cities can do using smart systems that will really benefit everyone who lives there. The key here is to make sure that people are well informed about what information is being collected on them and what that information is being used for.