The Smart City and its impact on corporate security
The smart city has moved from being an abstract and futuristic concept to reality. As more organisations, governments and public institutions embrace smart concepts, it is imperative for business that security is embedded at the outset in the integrated systems being developed.
We are witnessing a period of great worldwide urbanisation and development. In heavily populated countries such as China and India, which make up a great part of the world’s population, people are moving to cities in increasing rates. It is therefore essential to improve the systems that enhance the quality of life for urban communities.
At the same time as this increasing urbanisation, information and communication technology have become indispensable; we rely on a grid of interconnected infrastructures for conducting business, managing our societies and our personal lives. Hence, most governments are taking an interest in acquiring and implementing smart solutions for the management of a wide array of human activities from energy to security, from education to transportation.
Where do smart cities fit?
In this fast-evolving scenario, smart cities implement and exploit integrated technology systems to provide many of the services their citizens and business need, such as energy, transport and utilities. They are expected to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people. They must enable local development and harness technological progress to create smart outcomes, such as saving on consumption and resources. There are many key technologies that are playing a critical role in building and developing smart cities. Among these are: wireless networks such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE, 4G and 5G mobile systems, sensor networks, renewable energy, optical fibre systems, Internet of Things, GPS, social networks, RFID, cloud computing systems, smart transportation systems, and biometrics.
A central role for safety and security
A smart city must exploit the capabilities of these all-encompassing and cooperative computing technologies to the benefit of its inhabitants and the businesses that operate there. As part of this, technological solutions related to safety and security are being designed to perform a central role in handling the challenges of urbanisation and demographic changes. We are already familiar with remote monitoring systems, including security cameras bringing increasing amounts of security data.
The public and private sectors are working in partnership to develop systems that can share intelligence for the benefit of all and support corporate security. For instance, integrated command and control centres can support security departments in identifying and recording violations and accidents and dispatching responders.
The challenge of securing data
The increased complexity of a city’s systems, with their interdependencies and globally connected social, economic and political networks, has increased its vulnerability. In particular, this new digital technology can create a challenge that threatens to overwhelm the modern city: data and the security of it. Machines, vehicles, computers, smartphones will soon generate amounts of information that are almost incalculable.
This data includes highly sensitive and critical information such as biometric, health and financial details of individuals. Privacy and the appropriate protection of this data is of utmost importance as the cyber threats spread and infinite amounts of data become more integral to a wide range of operations. An ever-expanding network of devices, technologies and ways of sharing information and the ever-increasing cyber threats means the need for reliable defences and quick responses to breaches will keep security professionals busy for many years to come.
The risks of interdependency
Smart city systems are typically large and elaborate and have a wide variety of interrelations with other fields and many stakeholders. It can be difficult to know all the risks the components are exposed to and to measure and mitigate these risks. In addition, these interdependencies mean that the underlying technologies can be harder to maintain and upgrade. Moreover, cyberattacks on one particular area (for example on an energy or security infrastructure) have the potential to create cascade effects on other systems. It is imperative that data privacy, protection and security concerns and challenges must be addressed at the outset of smart city technologies.
An integrated response
A suite of solutions is therefore needed, some driven by market forces, some by developments in technology and others by the needs of governance and management. These solutions must have future-proofed security features to build a more secure connected urban environment that is resilient to any risk, threat or attack.
This is essential for the continuous development of smart cities against future challenges.
Commercial Director and Innovative Solutions Director.