Future is Today: Smart Cities and Its Challenges

Future is Today: Smart Cities and Its Challenges

By Valentina Tuta

To be honest, we’re in an era that is almost completely mediated by technology, and thanks to some now we know that by 2050, 68% of the world will live in cities. Although we aren’t referring to just any metropolie, in fact, it’s about one of the latest UN projects.

You see, everything will be possible due to the rapid urbanization with which city planners are adopting technology to foster sustainable development and meet the demands of residents, transforming cities into “smart cities.”

But, what exactly are “Smart cities”?

Well, Smart cities depend on IoT and AI technologies to collect data on several aspects of city life, such as traffic, health, weather, and waste management, and automate processes. For instance, IoT devices include traffic cameras, utility meters, smart grid sensors, and air quality monitors.

Thus, the main purpose of this project is to achieve a complete and successful implementation in order to provide the residents with faster and more effective solutions to their common problems by using the data collected by the electronic equipment, and plan for a more sustainable urban future.

While the initiative is very interesting and with and with luck and good organization it could work, with an explosive increase in technology deployed in public places comes unique IT security challenges.

IT Security Risks Run the Gamut

Okay, if we have to talk about risks, it’s important to mention that there are plenty of them, ranging from individuals committing fraud by hacking ease-of-payment portals to cyber-physical risks such as malfunctioning traffic light cameras that could cause car accidents. 

Risks also include nation-state actors sabotaging the operations of an entire city. However, there is perhaps a larger concern and it’s about interconnectivity of smart systems. Then, any weak point in the infrastructure could threaten the entire system.

Possible Lack of governance

On the other hand, the risks are not always related to security. In fact, a smart city can face problems around a lack of governance. That’s why, without clearly defined roles, smart city technologies rely on security in the supply chain and the assumption that city IT professionals will abide by IT security best practices.

Moreover, “unlike the corporate environment, in which there are usually quite clearly defined roles for security like a chief information security officer, data protection officer, [and] privacy officer, those types of roles don’t typically exist in smart cities within municipalities,” said NCC Group commercial researcher Matt Lewis. “As a result, there’s currently an uncertainty within local authorities around who’s responsible for security and risk.”


Reduction of Smart City Security Risks

By now, local authorities are mostly in the trial phase with smart city technology today, and sincerely, there’s not too much that we can do to avoid its implementation as it’s actually a fact that the project will likely expand in the next five years. As a result, cities will become more reliant on various technologies as well as IT vendors.

Besides, even if a certain amount of risk can be mitigated in the design process and through rigorous security testing, an unwavering dedication to security is required. Additionally, we cannot forget that this kind of technology can affect the privacy of citizens, so it’s also necessary to have a backup plan to develop data protection practices that consider consent and fair use as well. The only thing we can say is that the future mediated by ICTs is already here and we hope that the leaders can manage it in the right way.

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