How smart cities can create a road map to reduce risk and improve resiliency

A new EWI study gives guidance to urban leaders on how to create an effective and practical smart city.

How the City of London is updating its Smart London Plan Developing smart city innovation for autonomous vehicles and handling digital change for the National Health Service are key components of London's plan for digital technology.

More than three-quarters of the earth's population lives in cities. Smart technologies are quickly emerging to transform how people work and live. There are both new opportunities and new risks in smart cities.

A new report, Smart and Safe: Risk Reduction in Tomorrow's Cities, from the EastWest Institute (EWI), gives direction to urban leaders who want to reduce risks and create more resilient cities.The report covers four main areas: Cybersecurity, cyber resilience, privacy and data protection and collaboration and coordination in governance. Unisys, Microsoft, Huawei Technologies and NXP Semiconductors provided input.

"The rapid evolution of smart cities is both exciting and daunting due to the incredible pace of technological change and adoption," said Bruce McConnell, EWI global vice president and co-author of the report. "This guide was developed to recognize and support all key stakeholders involved—municipalities, governments, urban planners, businesses and community leaders—to help them safeguard smart cities for the future."

SEE: Smart cities: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

The IDC defines smart city development as the use of smart initiatives combined to leverage technology investments across an entire city, with common platforms increasing efficiency, data being shared across systems and IT investments tied to smart missions. Meanwhile, the United Nations defines a smart and sustainable city as an innovative city that uses information and communications technologies and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services and competitiveness.

All of this technology means that cities are more vulnerable, although there are ways to manage that risk. Smart cities needs to focus on scale and speed of devices, the interconnection of networks, and being willing to adopt new technologies, according to the report.

"Urban leaders around the globe are embracing the concept of smart cities, using technology, interconnectivity and the Internet of Things to improve their citizens' lives," said Unisys Chairman and CEO Peter Altabef. "City officials must be aware of key lessons and best practices to implement and integrate technologies that make smart cities safe cities for improved public safety and public health. This guide was created for this express purpose."

By defining acceptable risks and implementing a risk management framework, city officials can substantially reduce the downside risk of some technologies, according to the report.

First and foremost is paying attention to cybersecurity by buying secure devices and using the network to enforce security and incident handling.

The second is ensuring cyber resilience with fail-safe systems that are protected by strong cybersecurity and includes redundancy.

The third is managing privacy and data responsibly to protect data and ensure the public's trust. One way to do this is by enhancing transparency by hiring a chief privacy officer with regular reporting on the state of privacy and data protection, and also by creating a privacy and data protection charter.

The fourth and final area of technology management covered in the report is for government to coordinate and collaborate with the deployment of platforms, by engaging citizens, and by communicating about decisions and the reasons behind them.

All of these combined create a road map for implementing security and resilience into a smart city. According to the report, the road map should do the following:

  • Identify a smart city vision
  • Ensure broad stakeholder participation
  • Map critical risk and interdependencies
  • Mitigate risk and ensure benefit realization
  • Define adequate levels of security and resilience
  • Adapt governance structures
  • Ensure informed investment decisions

By having such a road map, decisions are made in advance instead of as an afterthought. By staying ahead of the curve, it will be possible for cities to be safer and defend against technical failures and cybercrime.

Also see

smart-city-ostapenkoolena.jpg
Image: iStock/Ostapenkoolena

By Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is Associate Managing Editor at TechRepublic. She oversees production of TechRepublic's downloads and TechRepublic Premium. Teena also covers hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of...