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IDNYC Smart Chip Debate Raises Questions of Smart City Ethics

Nov. 1, 2020
A proposal by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would allow tiny RFID chips to be implanted in every municipal ID to facilitate electronic payments, connect to the metro […]

A proposal by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would allow tiny RFID chips to be implanted in every municipal ID to facilitate electronic payments, connect to the metro train station and even hold medical information[1]. City Council member Carlos Manchaca introduced a bill in response to this proposal to prevent the smart chip, citing surveillance concerns particularly for immigrants[2]. Although smart cities provide a gateway to a cleaner future, there must be cautions taken to ensure technology doesn’t entrench on basic civil liberties.

Choice Business Connections CEO Darren Sadana urges for balance when it comes to technology and its use in smart cities. "As a fairly new and rapidly evolving industry, IOT has the potential for world-changing applications—but privacy rights will be the lynchpin of successful IOT adoption," said Sadana. "The consumer and business information transmitted over IOT devices should be protected by national guidelines and laws."

As technology advances and more people urbanize, the presence of smart cities will greatly increase. At their core, smart cities are intended to work in a variety of ways to improve the quality of life for residents.

Food for Thought from Our 2022 ICT Visionaries


PUBLIC SAFETY: Safety-alert kiosks in Kansas City warn residents of alerts in their area, and allow them to report on criminal activity.

TRAFFIC PREVENTION: Traffic data from streetlight sensors is used in Hangzou, China, to coordinate traffic signals to reduce gridlock.

FASTER RESPONSE TIMES: By 5G connection, dispatchers can use streetlight data to go to the scene of an accident with the least traffic.[3]

In order to provide this array of benefits, smart cities rely on connectivity and the  Internet of Things (IoT); it also requires a fair share of data from citizens. In order to ensure proper use and management of this data, Sadana whose company specializes in wireless connectivity for IoT and solution providers, stresses the importance of legal checks and balances that must be implemented with the emergence of smart cities around the globe.

"No smart city should violate constitutional rights no matter the benefit," said Sadana. "Data laws should be created to protect civil rights and liberties and manage who has access to this data."

If properly managed and controlled, technology in smart cities can greatly advance society, reduce environmental harm and improve day-to-day life for citizens.

As for IDNYC, Sadana notes that treading cautiously — with these principles and ethics in mind — is the only way for success with this initiative or similar initiatives in the future.

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About the Author: Choice Business Connections Inc. provides a wireless connectivity and management platform for IoT-based solutions providers in the consumer-facing, public, industrial, and infrastructural sectors. They were awarded Top 50 Smartest Companies of 2018 by the Silicon Review and Channel Vision’s Visionary Spotlight Awards for Top Innovation, Service Provider Enablement, and Enterprise Technology in 2019. With a business model based on ease of use and transparency, Choice Business Connections is dedicated to helping its customers deploy their solutions with maximum control and the lowest possible connectivity cost. For more information, please see

[1] Cahn, Albert Fox. "New York’s Smart IDs Are the Latest Mass Surveillance Nightmare." The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 1 Oct. 2019.

[2] Cahn, Albert Fox. "Surveillance and the City: IDNYC’s Not-So-Smart Future." Gotham Gazette, 2 Oct. 2019,

[3] The Daily Beast. "’Smart Cities’ Are Poised to Change Health, Safety, and Everything in Between." The Daily Beast, The Daily Beast Company, 21 Oct. 2019,

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