The Emergence of Smart Cities and their Privacy Implications

From transportation to traffic management, smart city technology has the capability to change how people live and interact by reducing resource consumption, making the city more efficient and much more. Although this technology is still in its infancy stages of development, the push for smart city realization seems inevitable and it won’t be long before governments fully adopt these technologies into everyday aspects of city life.

Let’s look at some of the emerging smart city initiatives in the world and their benefits:

Smart Transportation

Inefficient transportation, heavy traffic, and reduced road safety and security are all problems that are rampant in big cities. The smart city technology helps to solve these issues through smart traffic lights with cameras and sensors situated in the cars. These technologies make it possible to monitor traffic flow, which shows in traffic lights, and is optimized to alleviate congestion during peak hours.

Smart energy

Energy-efficiency is another big challenge in major cities as the demand increases and the supply remains the same. Smart cities implement different IoT solutions to help in smart energy management. 

For instance, smart meters and smart grids make it possible for utility companies to evaluate power usage in real-time. This data can be used to predict periods of high and low consumption, which makes it easy to adjust energy distribution appropriately.

There is also the execution of renewable energy sources such as solar panels that reduce energy costs and minimize environmental footprint.

Privacy Concerns of Smart Cities

Despite the immense benefits that come with smart cities, there are privacy concerns that we need to be aware of. For smart cities to be effective, there is greater need for data collection and analysis. They, therefore, collect data from people, smart meters, cameras, phones, sensors, devices, and other relevant points. Security experts had been showing concerns regarding data collection in Alphabet’s project in Toronto.

Smart cities also have to be connected for information to flow where it is required. The different aspects that make cities smart also make them vulnerable.

All the information collected, including personal data and a person’s location could be immensely sensitive and valuable to thieves who may use it to rob a home, stalkers who may want to follow their victim’s every move, and even sexual predators who may be waiting for the right time to strike.

Since smart cities are highly connected, there is also the risk of data breaches by online crooks who are waiting to take advantage of the unsecured public Wi-Fi networks in cities to launch their attacks.

How to Stay Private

It goes without saying that data collection and analysis is paramount in a smart city setting. To avoid all the privacy concerns that arise from collecting huge amounts of data, it is important for smart city designers to take the necessary precautions to safeguard the privacy of their citizens.

Citizens need to understand that even if the government and corporations used the data collected correctly, there is still the risk of data breach. They should, therefore, look for ways to protect their privacy, especially when using public Wi-Fi’s. One of the best ways to reclaim anonymity and privacy online is by using a VPN to encrypt your data and protect your online footprint from prying eyes.

Courtesy of Chris Jones @ TurnOnVPN

Who will win the next elections? I can almost guarantee you my predictions

It is election times again, not just in UK or Spain, but also very soon in the USA and with all the presidential campaigns; I cannot help but think of communities of properties.

In fact communities of properties are pretty much the same. They have annual general meetings and elections. They have a budget, general expenses, fixed income and unexpected costs.  There are also different groups of people in all communities and each

Minimum Interest Rates in your Mortgage Contract!

Millions of families across Spain, including a good number of expats, have contracted mortgages with interest rate floor clauses (“cláusulas suelo”, as they are commonly called in Spain), which prevented them from taking advantage of the very low mortgage interest rates which have occurred due to the decline in the Euribor rates since the financial crisis started in 2008 (The Euribor is currently at 0,32%).

How Smart is your Home?

From the tablet we use to browse the Internet to the mobile phone that can do a myriad of functions to a car which can park itself, technology is making our lives easier and more fun. In our homes, technology can also save us money by reducing our bills.

By using solar hot water tanks, solar panels and wind turbines we can reduce our impact on the environment, cut our bills and even make money by feeding energy back into the grid. Obviously Spain’s sunny climate makes it ideal for solar energy and as a minimum a water tank on the roof can produce very hot water in the summer months without a big investment.

By using smart technology like a smart thermostat, blinds and windows, your home can regulate its temperature appropriately when you need it, so you won’t be heating or cooling an empty house. You can even use sensors to judge the light levels so lights are only used when light is low and when there are people in the room. There are lots of amazing smart home options available, five of which have been pulled out in this informative article on smart technology to save you money.

Reducing paper use in your urbanisation

Paper is used extensively in homes and around urbanisations for cleaning, printing, communication, packing and much more. But paper manufacture is a huge drain on the world’s forests, not to mention a high user of energy and a polluting manufacturing process.

Using recycled paper and recycling the paper you do use is important to minimizing depletion of forests and there are lots of handy tips to reducing paper use at home and in the office. However as a community president you can lead the way by dramatically cutting the amount of paper you use and saving money by switching to online communication methods.

Use a community website to conduct polls, share ideas and information and improve communication. Having a website everyone can access rather than a notice board will dramatically reduce the amount you have to print out and will improve communication because owners can be in touch no matter where they are.

Urbytus is committed to helping communities to save paper and cut costs by rolling out our Online Community Management (OCM) software. OCM is a multi-lingual web-based solution designed to make the job of managing and living within a community easier. It allows effective, paperless communication between owners, the committee and administrators. Owners can advertise properties for sale and rent, access information and share their problems easily. The Community President and Administrator have access to easy to use management tools which can significantly reduce their workload.

Through this software we are already helping around 2 million owners to reduce their use of stamps, envelopes, paper and ink, saving them around 1.2 million Euros. We estimate that we can save large communities up to 15,000€ and help them to be more environmentally responsible.  Please contact Urbytus to find out more.

Important Facts regarding Renting out your property in Spain

There’s a lot of demand for short term rentals during the peak season and demand for long term rentals is growing. For decades foreign homeowners in Spain have been renting out their properties at a low level and enjoying the extra income it brings. However there is a really low awareness of Spanish laws amongst these landlords which has led to mistakes and oversights which can have some scary consequences. As a Community President, it’s important to be up to date on these issues so you can properly advise your owners.

For instance, most of the homeowners renting their properties short term are not aware that they should actually be declaring the income and paying tax on it. The Spanish tax authority is now clamping down on this unpaid tax which has been estimated to be €104.8 million in the Malaga province alone. They have joined forces with the electricity companies to be able to prove that there is consumption during periods that the owners are not in Spain, therefore it must be being rented – crafty!