The future smart city

More than two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to be urban by 2050. In order to meet the demands of urbanisation, we will see a huge growth in new infrastructure put in place to support the world’s largest population centres. As technologists and leaders, we need to make sure that huge infrastructure growth does not create a related growth in security or privacy risks.

Tech is a tool, data-insight transforms

Emerging and maturing technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, automation and robotics will become part and parcel of the growth of the future smart city. Earlier this year, the US city of Dallas selected Ericsson to install and host a system of IP-connected smart energy meters, known as an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS).

According to William Finch, CIO for the city of Dallas, “the smart way to become a smart city is the intentional focus on making data actionable.”

>Read more on why businesses and society need smart cities

We are seeing an increase in smart appliances for healthcare, the automotive industry and household appliances; all of which are aimed at improving conveniences and the consumer’s quality of life.

For a smart service or ecosystem to be successful, “intelligent things” need to talk to each other. In addition, the successful ecosystem must aptly share, classify, categorise, secure and store data volumes (be they analytical, or interactive). But above all, data must be made available for interactions at the benefit of the consumer.

Focus on the end user, not the manager

We will see an increase in the use of actionable intelligence to shift, sort, manage and present data in a manner that is of value to consumers within a smart city. Volumes of data will be living between disparate devices – such as within a data lake; and these volumes of data will need centralised feeds for effective analytics, regardless of their formats.

Once this centralisation of data from disparate sources occurs, we have to think about integrating intelligence with automation, all the while walking that fine line between privacy and security. We will see rapid changes in the area as we assess how best to leverage user behaviour analytics and other services within the future smart city ecosystem, without stepping across regulatory boundaries. Of particular note in Europe will be the need to adhere to GDPR and other privacy rules when considering our data collection and management.

>Read more on how the private sector can help advance the future smart city

There will also be the conversations with continuity and recovery folks who will have added responsibilities to ensure critical components have the right failsafes, recovery and continuity plans so that specific components within a future smart city do not go down, affecting thousands of people at a time.

According to recent smart cities research study by global business technology professional association ISACA, malware and denial of service were cited as the two top concerns for smart infrastructure attacks, and only 15% of respondents consider cities to be most equipped to contend with smart infrastructure cyber attacks.

Critical Infrastructure most susceptible to cyber attacks in the future smart city
Critical Infrastructure most susceptible to cyber attacks in the future smart city. Source: ISACA Smart Cities Survey

No lone wolves in the future smart city

So, where does that leave those of us who live within digital transformation, security, risk management, privacy, governance and BCDR? What can we do raise that 15% stat? How do we ensure the right mix of controls, governance and risk management are implemented to get us there?

Even if we dissect the future smart city risk, security and privacy management down to individual components, it is still a given that there will have to be new risk assessment and remediation management frameworks.

>Read more on the darker side of cities

We will also have to look at legal and privacy add-ons to keep pace with the growth of usage, technologies and density of users within smart cities. However, what is more critical to address in the near term will be privacy concerns around user interactions and locational data concerns.

Cities will inevitably move more toward the smart city model and smart equipment will be a de facto part of life within the next two decades. As smart cities evolve, planners, vendors, architects, administrators and users will have to ensure collaborative governance to drive increased confidence in cities’ preparedness.

We have to stop to consider that the wealth of information within data lakes, and available in data stores, data maps and availability zones, some held temporarily, others held more permanently, will most likely be black gold for malicious actors.


Sourced by Jon Shende, ISACA Expert and Fortune 200 Global Head of Services within cyber security

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...