Henrich C. Pöhls met Thiago Ribeiro the co-ordinator of POA#digital on his trip through Brazil. POA#digital is the coordinating and technical expert group behind Porto Alegre’s SmartCity initiative.
Mr. Thiago Ribeiro is the coordenador do POA Digital na Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Alegre and thus he is involved in all SmartCity projects of Porto Alegre. Among the technology they mentioned are roadside cameras, participatory sensing apps. For example Mr. Ribeiro mentioned a service called waze for road congestion detection also used in Porto Alegre.
Porto Alegre is the capital of the large southern Brazilian state Grande do Azul. Mr. Thiago said that Porto Alegre supports to release information again as open data. It is actively making themselves heard and it is one of the few south american cities that are part of connectedsmartcities.eu. Porto Alegre is actively taking concepts and ideas from leading SmartCities, Mr. Ribeiro mentioned San Francisco, and adept them to suit the southern environment. He explicitly mentioned the climate as a distinguishing factor, e.g. heat and moisture levels are higher than in European Cities.
“Smartcities are not the owners of the citizen-supplied data but the data guardians”
For the city wide deployed cameras Mr. Ribeiro also mentioned that Porto Alegre has a very large fiberoptical network backbone. When we discussed the topic of privacy, Thiago Ribeiro said that “POA#digital sees themselves not as owners of the citizen-supplied data but as data guardians.” Porto Alegre is taking the protection of data at their servers very seriously and the protection of data when it is on their servers is on their agenda.
“SmartCities have a clear need for protection of the integrity of the data sensed and at the same time privacy”
As example of the privacy mechanisms he explained that if security cameras are able (because of viewing angle or because of pan/tilt/zoom functionality) to monitor private spaces, e.g. the windows of a house, than the system is configured and deployed such that those areas are digitally masked from the image feed that is visible to the operator. So the camera operator cannot see into citizens’ private areas. He further explained that openly shared data, the example was health related data the city has, i.e. data that is released as open data, shall not allow identifying individual citizen’s health status. The discussion evolved further and finally centered around the mutual agreement that SmartCities have a clear need for protection of the integrity of the data sensed and at the same time privacy.
Henrich C. Pöhls from UNI PASSAU will continue to stay in contact with POA#digital.
RERUMs deliverables on privacy —soon to be released— will help to highlight RERUM’s strength. RERUM will investigate if in the future the discussion can be intensified.
We would like to thank Mr. Ribeiro and the team from POA#digital for the time and the insights into Porto Alegre — a Brazilian SmartCity.