The concept of the smart city emerged more than a decade ago, and a number of cities in the world have jumped on the smart city bandwagon, labelling themselves “smart” in some way or another. Smart cities are intended to improve quality of life, increase sustainability and create economic benefits through the use of digital technology. By 2050 there will be a predicted seven billion people living in urban areas, so it is vital that we implement green and viable resources, using technology to make our cities better and smarter.
Key features of successful smart cities
Connectivity is at the heart of a successful smart city. The machines must be able to connect and communicate. Remote access by those monitoring and maintaining the infrastructure is also essential; people need to interact with the technology in order to reap the operational and financial benefits it offers. Analysts and developers should be able to gather the data generated efficiently and in real time to develop innovative uses of this data and provide new insights.
Creating a smart city can be an expensive business, but there are ways costs can be reduced considerably by including making use of pre-existing infrastructure. Partnerships could also be formed between public and commercial entities to form the required networks.
To allow infrastructure sharing and partnerships, it is essential that accurate digital records are collated, a common problem in both the public and private sector with legacy infrastructure. The lack of accurate digital records on infrastructure location, its use, spare capacity, state, maintenance schedules and so on. can be a stumbling block to the commercialisation of these assets or the forming of partnerships.
The technology and infrastructure in truly smart city should be fully optimised with certainty over how much it is being used, how often and what for.
A living, breathing smart city must be future proof. Effective planning will indicate where investment in infrastructure are needed, and on what scale. Open standards should be used for the selection of technology, rather than proprietary products, to avoid restrictions when attempting to increase interactions and interconnections with other organisations and systems. Backwards compatibility should also be considered to minimise the need to purchase new operating systems or technology to ensure the machines can communicate with each other in the inter-connected network of networks within the smart city.
Secure transition to a resilient smart city
Smart cities can securely thrive and prosper if cyber security and information protection are fundamental components of the services provided to constituents. Critical steps and areas of focus should include:
- Establishing the governance framework – Identify key stakeholders. Firstly, within the administration: the policy makers and their cabinets;
- Protecting information proactively – Taking an information-centric approach, embedding security within data and taking a content-aware approach to protecting information is vital for identifying ownership of where sensitive details reside and who has access to them.
- Authenticating users –Strong authentication prevents individuals from accidentally disclosing credentials to an attack site and from attaching unauthorised devices to the infrastructure.
- Leveraging threat intelligence – In order to understand the major attack trends, city governance and CIOs can count on an established observatory to provide one of the most extensive and accurate vendorneutral analyses of trends on malware, security threats and vulnerabilities, from security research centres around the world.
- Balancing traditional versus cloud delivery – In a smart city environment, all the smart services mentioned so far can be delivered through a traditional client-server approach, but also through a cloud-computing model, in order to leverage ‘as-a-service’ capabilities and efficiencies.
- Managing security services – Cities should also consider outsourcing security services to providers who can leverage extensive, global expertise in the field of cyber security to minimise security-related disruptions and data loss.
- Developing an information management strategy – This should include an information retention plan and policies. Organisations need to stop using backup for archiving and legal retention, and should instead implement deduplication everywhere to free up resources, use a full-featured archive and eDiscovery system and deploy data loss prevention technologies.