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The Benefits and Risks of Policymakers’ Use of Smart City Technology

Smart cities—places where connected devices, big data, the urban environment, and city dwellers intersect—have been widely lauded for their potential to improve government services and trans­parency. However, while most coverage of smart city innovations has focused on their potential benefits, these technologies also carry real risks for residents’ safety and civil rights.

A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University looks at both the positive and the negative aspects of smart cities. The study incorporates numerous case studies from cities that have experienced both success and failure in implementing smart city tools. The study recom­mends that reformers focus on the incentives of local officials, not just on the promises of new technologies, to ensure that smart city innovations provide a true benefit to citizens.

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