Cities around the world are implementing the use of technologies to make their cities smarter. Over the past few years, many cities have adopted the use of smart city projects and IoT to improve the lives of their citizens. With the use of smart city technologies, cities are able to control everything, from traffic lights to the distribution of water in the city. This makes the cities dependent on technology. However, the implementation of technology also brings along other concerns such as data protection.

The Use of Smart City Technologies

Local governments are implementing the use of smart city technologies as they have seen the benefits of using technology. This enables cities to have a better overview of what happens in the city and at the same time improve the lives of their citizens. However, cities are still lacking on connecting the different systems with each other.

By connecting the different systems, a city is able to make better use of technology and therefore improve their performance. Current smart cities are not yet completely aware that to create a smart city, they need to connect their smart networks to each other. This will enable the different systems to talk to each other and provide a complete information to the city’s official as they would receive complete data. Therefore, it can be said that the use of technology in current smart cities is still fragmented.

One of the reasons why the technology is still fragmented is due to the fact that city authorities and technology suppliers develop the smart technology ¨from the ground up¨. In fact, they usually decide on what they want to measure and control and then proceed to install the needed technologies. However, in this process, it is often forgotten that they can opt to combine networks of sensors across the whole city. This would enable cities to combine collected data from different networks.

According to Chris Harding, Director of Interoperability at independent IT standards organization The Open House:

“Smart cities are putting smart applications in, but they have not yet got to point where they realize they need to connect their smart apps together.”

Concerns About Cybersecurity and Data Protection

Due to the increase of the use of technologies in smart cities, local governments have gained new concerns. The increase of the technologies used to create smart cities has forced local governments to take think of ways in which they can sharpen their cyber security.

The dangers of cities getting their systems hacked have increased over the past few years. A simple computer bug can already cause big problems for the control systems of a smart city. This can ultimately lead to major technical problems for smart cities. This comes due to the fact, that once hackers are able to invade the smart city control system they will be able to send manipulated data to servers to exploit and crash entire data centers. This can be of major harm for a smart cityAn An example of this how hackers gained access to the Illinois water utility control system in 2011. With this access, hackers destroyed the water pump that serviced over 2,200 people. This caused harm for the residents of Illinois and the local government had to incur too high costs to solve the problem.

Nevertheless, the use of technologies to create smart cities have also brought along concerns about data security. Cities do not only need to think about cybersecurity, they also need to take citizen’s data in consideration. Data protection is becoming an even bigger concern as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced starting the 25 May 2018.

This regulation concerns all businesses or entities involved in the process of collecting and storing data. The regulation was designed with the goal to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy. Furthermore, it also aims to reshape the way in which organizations in Europe approach data privacy.

EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR was firstly introduced in 1995. However, many things in data security have changed ever since. These significant changes have forced the EU to introduce the new GDPR which will be enforced starting the 25 May 2018. Furthermore, the key principles are still equal to the previous directive. Many changes have taken place to the regulatory policies. The main changes of the GDPR concern the following:

  • Increased territorial scope (extraterritorial applicability)
  • Penalties
  • Consent
  • Breach notification
  • Right to access
  • Right to be forgotten
  • Data portability
  • Privacy by design
  • Data protection officers


The changes in this regulation bring along concerns for both smart cities and companies operations. Any company or entity operating that collects, analyses or processes citizen’s data needs to take in consideration the alterations in this regulation. Therefore, smart cities need to take in consideration how they will improve their data security. The improvement of data security is important for local governments due to the protection of the collected data and of course due to the privacy concerns of the data that they collect from their citizens. Specially for smart cities, the integration of the different technology systems and the integration of these different systems will have a big impact on the data security measures to be undertaken by local governments.