Safety is crucial

Smart cities provide us with safety, protection and comfort. Good management could allow us to share the cost of many services, such as increased security quotas. These advantages can be achieved for buildings, groups of users, neighbourhoods or cities. Many cities are adapting to this paradigm, which is starting to become a social requirement, especially in the current situation, in which security is a critical component and the economy is deteriorating.

Around the world, many smart cities are being built from scratch, using secure technology to pursue these benefits, as in the case of the Msheireb district in Doha.  However, most cities that are or want to progress towards the smart city model are integrating different technologies in terms of sensorization, IoT, data management, etc. and this makes them increasingly vulnerable to new threats. When you connect everything to the Internet you open up many doors and you must always be aware of the risk of leaving some of them open or not properly closed. 

We have seen the effects of cyber-attacks on connected industry, on Industry 4.0, but we have also seen attacks on numerous cities. Last year, we witnessed a large number of cyber-attacks against cities, towns and government organizations. In Augusta, USA, there was a cyber-attack that froze its network and forced the city center to shut down, hackers stole ransomware worth half a million dollars from the city of Tallahassee, Florida, and another attack blocked the state of Louisiana’s web portal and several online government services.

We need to ensure that controlled infrastructures in smart cities are not vulnerable to cyber-attacks, that their citizens feel safe while connected to the network, and that all connected devices in a city are protected. Technologies are being developed to ensure that critical and non-critical infrastructures are well-managed and protected at the same time. For example, in Spain, the company that has created a smart city management system is about to launch another one called that monitors networks, protecting infrastructures in a way that is transparent to the user.

This article has been published by the Innovadores supplement of the newspaper El Mundo.

Juan Manuel Corchado

Full Professor in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Department of Computer Science and Automation, University of Salamanca, Spain.


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