Belfast selected as global pioneer city for smart city tech plans

  • Belfast has joined a list of 35 cities around the world that will be pioneering a new global policy plan for ethical and responsible adoption of smart city tech.

    Some of the most tech-savvy cities around the world have been investing heavily in smart city tech, which aims to transform urban living by using live data to improve everything from traffic flow and power management to policing and public transport. These technologies are continuing to roll out throughout the world, and Belfast's burgeoning tech sector makes it a potential hotspot for smart city development.

    While smart city technology can bring significant benefits to the population, it also has the potential for serious abuse. Critics of smart city strategies often warn that the focus on general efficiency doesn't necessarily put people's best interests forward. Cities may not be optimising for disability accessibility, and high levels of data collection have raised concerns over privacy.

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    Belfast has now been selected as a 'Pioneer City' for smart technologies as part of the World Economic Forum’s G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance. It will be collaborating with other smart cities around the world to help develop policies covering areas such as privacy, cybersecurity, open data, and digital accessibility for disabled and elderly people.

    The alliance will inform the development of the Smart Belfast Programme and is designed to help establish a policy framework for the ethical and responsible rollout of smart city services. Belfast is home to a growing number of companies developing IoT sensor technology and digitally overhauling local services.

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    Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: "Being part of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance means that each of the partner cities will benefit from expert, tailored insights and policy tools and this collaborative approach will allow us to make swift progress in how we use technology to deliver benefits to all of our citizens."

    Jeff Merritt, Head of the Internet of Things and Urban Transformation, World Economic Forum commented: "Technology is an essential tool in this fight, but governments cannot risk falling into the usual traps related to privacy, security and vendor lock-in. That’s where the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance can help. Our new policy roadmap will guide cities with practical policies for these issues, and our Pioneer Cities are leading the way for cities everywhere to get started."

    Source: Written based on press release

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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