Smart Cities, Big Data, and the Resilience of Privacy
Janine S. Hiller and Jordan M. Blanke
Volume 68, Issue 2, 309-56
Smart Cities are designed to ubiquitously collect information about people, places, and activities and to use that data to provide more efficient services and to build resilience against disasters. Projects like the Rockefeller Foundation-funded “100 Resilient Cities” are exploring how big data can be used to design and strengthen resilience in cities around the world. Large technology companies are helping to design and secure components of the Internet of Everything, which is part of a smart city structure. Relationships between governments and citizens, as well as between individuals and businesses, will see substantial changes due to this rapidly expanding collection and use of potentially intimate information. In this dynamic environment, it is difficult to protect privacy under traditional principles that did not anticipate a sensor-connected, surveillance-laden, data-driven world of the smart city. Slow moving court cases and inflexible fair information privacy practices may be insufficient to limit and/or guide smart city implementation that respects individual privacy. Cities need a methodology that will enable a discussion of how law, regulation, and social norms can respond to the dynamic disruption that a smart city poses to the fundamental nature of privacy.
This Article proposes that resilience theory can be a useful lens for this analysis. Resilience theory has multidisciplinary roots in engineering, biology, ecology, and sociology, and is generally understood as a way to understand how systems react to extreme pressureswhether they decline and die, or whether they adapt and thrive. The theory is used to describe multiple aspects of systems and organisms, from the ability of a building to withstand an earthquake to the ability of an organism not only to survive, but to also evolve into a different and possible better state. This Article views privacy as a system and examines it through the resiliency lens, framing the question of how privacy can adapt and survive in a smart city.