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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

It turns out that one of the biggest hurdles to the dream of hyperconnected "smart cities" isn't technology — it's humans.

The big picture: Making cities smarter is more of a business model and governance challenge than a technological one.

  • Aligning the interests of everyone involved — city councils, residents, telecom firms, utilities, app developers — is often a political quagmire.
  • And discussions are happening with the backdrop of increased skepticism of big tech companies — many of which are trying to sell tools to cities.

A foremost pain point is who controls the data generated by millions of sensors and cameras.

  • "The last thing we want is a smart city of surveillance. Freedom goes out the door," says Ann Cavoukian, former information and privacy commissioner for Ontario, Canada, and a city privacy expert at Ryerson University.

Rising housing prices are another hurdle. Some of the largest and most expensive metro areas — such as New York, Seattle and Los Angeles — have been among the most hospitable to smart city discussions. But Americans are finding it harder to afford these areas in the first place.

  • Mid-sized cities — such as Columbus, Kansas City and Phoenix — are harnessing smart city projects to attract attract workers and the startups and big companies that want to employ them.

The smart city movement is driven in part by tech-savvy millennials who have different expectations for their communities.

  • But for many cities, managing homelessness, hiring teachers and fixing crumbling highways will have to come before developing a smart parking app.

"Younger generations are more demanding of their leaders," said Sameer Sharma, who oversees Intel's smart cities initiatives. "They want governments to be more responsive."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat — Study: Trump campaign rallies likely led to over 700 COVID-related deaths.
  2. World: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown in England — Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections.
  3. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  4. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.

North Carolina police pepper-spray protesters marching to the polls

Officers in North Carolina used pepper spray on protesters and arrested eight people at a get-out-the-vote rally at Alamance County’s courthouse Saturday during the final day of early voting, the City of Graham Police Department confirmed.

Driving the news: The peaceful "I Am Change" march to the polls was organized by Rev. Greg Drumwright, from the Citadel Church in Greensboro, N.C., and included a minute's silence for George Floyd. Melanie Mitchell told the News & Observer her daughters, age 5 and 11, were among those pepper-sprayed by police soon after.

7 hours ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in England

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.