Cyber Intelligence Initiative

“Smart Cities” and their pressing issues in the future

Although there is no clear definition as to what a “smart city” is, there are common features that make a city “smart.” These features include the integration of smart data, transportation, energy, infrastructure, and IoT (Internet of Things).

Smart data is the foundation of any smart city; it is the feature that collects data from residents, IoT, cars, and remaining infrastructure to analyze efficiencies, inefficiencies, and where things can be improved. Smart transportation and energy involve the utilization of autonomous cars and clean energy sources that run and power the city. Smart infrastructure is used by city planners to develop smart cities better from the beginning with the evolving data being collected in already established cities. Finally, IoT is what fills the gaps in technology to improve the lives of citizens. The Smart Cities Council defines a smart city as “one that has digital technology embedded across all city functions.” A smart city uses information and communication technologies and the internet to improve urbanization and the lives of citizens. An added benefit is that cities and businesses are saving time and money in the process.

As technology increases, there are new challenges that cities and governments will face, especially when it comes to security versus privacy.

In 2017, the World Bank reported that 54% of the entire global population lives in cities, and it projected that, by 2050, that number will grow to more than two thirds of the world’s population. More people are moving into cities, and the need for urbanization will only grow. That means cities need to, if they haven’t already, become more efficient to meet the future demand. It is also important to note that new cities will need to incorporate smart data, transportation, energy, infrastructure, and integration of IoT from the start.

The reason for smart cities is to improve the lives of their citizens, and they do so by connecting every layer of a city, from the air to the streets to underground. Today, in many cities, citizens can download a mobile app for immediate access and connection for all city transportation. This app can tell you the fastest route, how to avoid traffic, and even where to find a parking space. Smart cites utilize IoT and technology to connect devices all around the city with the focus of creating sustainable and healthy communities. In major cities, there has been a growing number of smart devices used for healthcare, the auto industry, and household appliances. You can make a doctor’s appointment using an app, connect your phone to a home security system, etc. All these apps have the goal of improving the lives of citizens.

There is a fine line between security and privacy when it comes to integrating technology into the everyday lives of Americans. Smart data, transportation, energy, infrastructure, and IoT all collect, analyze, and store our private information. This information is constantly being used to improve services or development elsewhere. The advancement of technology fosters a dependence from the moment we wake up until we go to bed.

Because technology is embedded in literally every aspect of daily life, there need to be security measures. Policy needs to be established for information technology, not only for protecting citizens, but also cities, and the security of the nation.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. The first attack on IoT was an open source malware called Miraa. Its intentions were to use devices’ default password and usernames and turn them into a botnet to facilitate a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. It aimed to overwhelm websites with internet traffic until a desired outcome was reached. As technology increases, so does potential risk and damage.

As more and more cities are becoming “smart” in the U.S. and around the world, it is important not to forget about the possibility of an attack or breech that has the potential to completely disrupt everyday life. Looking ahead to the future, policies and regulations are needed to foster more innovation and growth while also protecting our citizens and ways of life.