World Economic Forum Report Provides Guidelines, Responsible Use For Smart Cities

The World Economic Forum has released a report – Governing Smart Cities – which provides a benchmark for the ethical and responsible use of smart city technologies. The report seeks to help city leaders identify gaps, protect long-term interests, and keep up with the pace of technology.

36 ‘Pioneer Cities’ were selected by the World Economic Forum from around the world to pioneer a global policy roadmap for smart cities, as part of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. According to the report, all of the cities have serious governance gaps related to their smart city technologies:

  • despite the large increase in global cybersecurity attacks, most cities do not have a specific government official dedicated to cybersecurity;
  • only 17% of the cities surveyed carry out privacy impact assessments before deploying new technologies;
  • less than 50% of the cities surveyed have processes in place to ensure that technologies they procure are accessible to elderly residents or individuals with limited physical abilities; and,
  • only 15% of the cities have integrated their open data portals with their wider city data infrastructure.

The report concludes that the cities need to take action before these governance gaps become material risks and affect residents. The report also calls for partnerships between national policymakers, civil society, and the business community to help support local governments in overcoming these challenges. 

“Cities are continuing to invest heavily in new technologies to automate and improve city services and urban life. Yet our findings validate our fears that most cities are falling behind when it comes to ensuring effective oversight and governance of these technologies,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of Internet of Things and Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum. “The G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance is working with cities across the globe to address this gap, beginning with more than 15 policy workshops with city officials this summer.”