From Dubai to Chicago, cities around the world are becoming increasingly “smarter”, using interconnected technologies to improve efficiency and digitize services.
Many governments see smart technology, in its various guises, as a way to boost development.
More broadly, data of the type that runs smart technology has moved front and centre in the global discussion over sustainable development.
The panoply of data-gathering innovations that can underpin the smart-city framework is broad: street lights fitted with license plate readers and gunshot detectors, sensors that detect and count passing smart phones, the ubiquitous presence of closed-circuit cameras in many cities and much more.
But the lightening-fast proliferation of some of these tools has brought with it a host of privacy concerns. Not least is the worry that an increase in data-gathering sensors, audio-recording devices and cameras in urban areas amounts to excessive government surveillance that erodes the space for public dissent.