LIVE FROM CES 2018, LAS VEGAS: Verizon VP of smart communities Mrinalini Ingram revealed the operator is in talks with around 100 cities regarding deployment of its smart city services, with between 20 and 25 edging towards a launch.

Verizon is aiming to build on a key smart city partnership penned with the city of Sacramento, California, in June 2017 which covered deployment of public safety and education solutions along with free Wi-Fi in the city’s parks.

Ingram told Mobile World Live tools like video can be used to make intersections safer, help with parking and traffic flow, and aid police in solving crimes. While such services are important elements in the move towards smart cities, Ingram explained there is a balance to be struck in terms of ensuring the security of data gathered and the privacy of people being monitored.

In addition to anonymising the information collected from video sensors, Ingram said Verizon also keeps the footage stored on individual devices at the edge of the network. She explained this helps prevent broad scale hacks of the data.

“If I’m a hacker – say I had a solution where that information, in order to be analysed, all has to go into a central cloud – I can go in and access one place and I have all the video feeds from the entire city. For us, that hacker would have to go literally to each and every light pole and even then only get a minute set of information. That makes it much, much more difficult for someone to misuse that information.”

Ingram said Verizon doesn’t track identifiers like licence plate numbers with the video solution, but noted police can access the feeds as part of investigations into incidents. However, Ingram explained access is limited to a 30-day period, after which the video feeds are erased.

“We have to really understand how to listen to needs of the community and be sure we’re finding solutions that make people feel safer but also protected [in terms of privacy],” she added.