A bright city skyline at night with a global network looming in the background

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Recently China’s 1984-style “social credit” technology sent the world buzzing in discussions of privacy, security, and smart cities. If you aren’t familiar with the system, it’s an Internet of Things (IoT) based systems that collectively rank people based on their actions and use of certain tools and products through video and data monitoring. For example, a citizen can lose social credit points for participating in a protest. A low social credit score can lead to a lack of job and housing opportunities. While this is an extreme example of smart city technology, nearly every urban city is slowly evolving to become “smarter”. Yes,, even the one you live in. 

Where is it all going? Will every city implement a Chinese-style social credit system in the near future? That’s where you come in, and using tools like Agenda Discovery for legislative tracking becomes so important for citizens. 

Here’s what you need to know about smart cities:

 

What is a Smart City, Exactly? 

Simply put, a smart city is a city that utilizes IoT for the management of its core systems like transportation, parking, crime, waste, water utilities, public services, buildings, energy, communication, and more. The idea is that through artificial intelligence (AI), and even in some cases blockchain, a city can function completely, or almost completely on its own, with little need for human labor and intervention. 

Many people don’t realize that smart cities are already happening, everywhere, just not in as dramatic ways as a sci-fi movie might have you believe. Local governments across the world have implemented smart technologies in their city management systems. The evolution of smart cities is happening in nearly every urban area, just in small pieces. 

 

Tracking Government Regulations for Smart Cities 

The United States is slower to smart city adaption than its European and Asian counterparts, but it’s catching on. 

New York City’s LinkNYC network would be considered an early entry into smart city territory. The tool offers services like free WiFi, phone calls, charging stations, and more to residents. LinkNYC is completely funded by the advertisements on every LinkNYC kiosk. 

In Santa Cruz, California police have put big data to use in a system that predicts crime based on historical data. This allows the department to focus its efforts on where crime is most likely going to happen and to set city regulations accordingly. 

Columbus, Ohio has implemented a smart city program that offers new electric vehicle charging stations, along with receiving funding to create a more sustainable and technologically integrated city infrastructure over the next few years. 

These cities are only a handful of examples of many. There are hundreds of tech companies positioning themselves on the city council agenda as smart solutions for cities across the countries. For example, Thought Wire, offers connectivity services that enable smart buildings and hospitals. BlocPower, is an energy grid management platform that scales clean energy in inner cities and aims to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Blink Identity, is a safety technology that identifies people at walking speed. Aclima, is an environmental services solution that monitors air pollution and emissions, and there are so many more! 

 

Smart City Regulations: Pros and Cons of Technology  

Smart technology has been slowly integrated into a modern lifestyle, so it makes sense that our cities would change to support that. For example, by 2025 retail IoT will be worth almost $95 Billion. Half of the American workforce works remotely to some degree. When is the last time you wrote a physical paper check to pay your mortgage or rent? How often do you rely on your smartphone for maps, parking, and building access? All of these core changes to our daily life derive from IoT. 

As you might have guessed there are some criticisms when it comes to the adaptation of smart cities. Primarily when it comes to privacy, security, and government regulations. For example, how much personal data will be collected from citizens? How ethical is it to not allow people the option of being recorded? How secure are these technological platforms? 

One of the primary reasons smart technology hasn’t completely taken over everything yet is because of the lack of knowledge and ability to protect sensitive data against cybersecurity attacks

Because of the piece-by-piece integration of smart cities, some have criticized that the adaptation lacks a central plan and organization that’s vital to its success. Some fear that low-income groups will be further left behind in technology-enabled cities and that problems like affordable housing and employment for these at-risk groups will continue to be glossed over.  

 

Using Agenda Software for Legislative Tracking 

In most cases, the implementation of smart city technology doesn’t just happen. Local governments have to approve the technology, and at times citizens may even have to vote on it. But unfortunately, this information isn’t always readily available and delivered to people directly. Monitoring your city’s integration to smart technology requires a watchful eye. 

It can be difficult to keep track of every meeting on the city council calendar. It can be even more time consuming to break down what will be discussed in every city council meeting schedule. That’s why our Agenda Discovery software was made. Our technology creates a government agenda alert every time a topic of interest is added to your local government’s schedule.

Have questions? Want to see how our platform can work for you? Request a demo here!