The future of cities will be smaller, wired, and very chatty, said Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf on Wednesday at a panel discussion on the Internet of Things # ReducingCyberRisk at NYU’s Brooklyn-Based PolyTechnic School of Engineering. Other panelists included Deborah Estrin, Professor Computer Science at Cornell Tech, and Beth Simone Noveck, Global Network Professor at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

The group deciphered and interpreted some of the technical challenges related to posed by potentially billions of connected devices. “We don’t know how to write software without bugs,” joked Cerf, “we’ve been trying for 70 years.” While technologists should be excited about the potential of a future loaded with IoT devices, Cerf cautioned developers should temper expectations with the reality of networking complexity. He added that there are still significant challenges related to API access to and control of data, standards and interoperability, and integrity of personal data like health records.

Cities and urban areas might be the first to benefit from the Internet of Things, the panel suggested. Connected devices will provide data back to cities. A smart electrical grid will make cities more efficient by allowing metropolitan areas to optimize how energy is used and distributed. This could prevent and minimize the impact of brownouts, and improve energy demand capabilities.

Device data networked at large scale will help inform and protect city residents by improving city service monitoring capabilities. Consumers will have better insights on the consumption of personal resources (energy, water, and gas) and granular neighborhood data. Local open data access through APIs has the potential to empower third-party developers to create applications that service granular neighborhood-specific needs.

Connected neighborhoods will provide better communication with city service providers, and easy access to regulation and tax information, local ombudsman and advocates, and library and educational facilities.

Today’s Internet is already loaded with things: connected devices and appliances that automatically gather data and share information. Alphabet‘s Nest thermostat will regulate your home temperture by monitoring and optimizing energy consumption. Enterprise tech companies like IBM, Oracle, Cisco, and AT&T are building sensors and networking technology that integrates with everything from refrigerators and other home appliances, to self-driving cars.

Municipalities taking advantage of sensors and data networks to create cities that are more transparent and more responsive to their communities are the next frontiers of IoT–if we can get the software right, as Cerf said.

Meaningful tweets From the discussion:

The talk is available here and was part of a series of lectures related to the Internet of Things and cyber-security hosted by NYU PolyTechnic.

Click here to automatically subscribe to our Week in Review newsletter.