Listed below are the key regulatory trends impacting the city growth engines in consumer theme, as identified by GlobalData.

Safeguarding citizens’ data

Personal data breaches, such as the August 2019 attack on the Click2Gov bill-paying portal used by US cities, have added to public concerns over how organisations treat their data. Higher expectations of stewardship have been set and given weight in law by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU). Its lens will now be focused on smart cities and their ownership, processing, use, and protection of data.

Earlier it was accepted that the collection of smart city data was in everyone’s interest, but a backlash is underway against excessive surveillance. Meanwhile, tech companies whose overambitious smart city plans fail to acknowledge citizens’ concerns over data privacy are doomed to fail.

The public mistrust over Google offshoot Sidewalk Labs’ bid to turn a parcel of land on Toronto’s waterfront into a showcase smart city project is a prime example of how public perceptions of what was once an eye-opening plan can change. Torontonians are having second thoughts about inviting one of the world’s most notorious data harvesters to experiment in their backyard.

The data privacy issue in Toronto will spur citizens in other cities to demand that their data concerns are effectively addressed. Failure to relate to and properly address data privacy concerns, therefore, will only stunt vendors’ smart city ambitions.

This is an edited extract from the City Growth Engines in Consumer – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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