Thinking Smarter About Smart City Security
The world is quickly urbanizing, and people are flocking
from suburbs and rural areas to cities more than
ever before. By 2050, 68 percent of the global population
will live in cities, and while concerns like public
safety and security are top of mind, the integration of
internet-connected devices (IoT) and convergence of physical and cybersecurity
promise improvement and better support for safe urban
living and improved mobility.
From smart transportation like driverless vehicles and smart
parking management, to smart thermostats, fire and water detectors
in buildings, to gunshot detection and supply chain management—
IoT-enabled smart cities have the opportunity to increase security,
public safety and overall quality of life in large urban settings. In
fact, the IoT in the smart cities market is projected to be worth $219.6
billion by 2023. However, these devices and systems also come along
with security and data integration challenges that require proactivity
and strategic partnerships, defined by collaboration between private
and public entities.
IoT Security Challenges
To tackle a big challenge and opportunity like IoT security, it’s best to
start out small by considering the different aspects of cyber and physical
convergence. Because every device has a hardware and a software
component, they must be approached holistically.
One integral part of improving smart cities involves the effective
use of smart communication and alert systems. From natural disaster
evacuations to security lockdown alerts, smart alert systems create
value by giving advanced warning to the public and improving
first responders’ and emergency response times. IoT devices can detect
storms and dangerous activity and send warnings to the public
quicker and more efficiently, boosting public safety.
Other IoT devices like video surveillance can enhance safety
through heightened intelligence, leading to a better overall safe economic
climate through facial recognition, license plate detection,
weapon detection and environmental monitoring in smart buildings.
IoT devices, such as self-driving cars and shuttles, connected intersections,
smart parking and drone deliveries in the future, can play
a role in smart city planning through improved transportation and
citizen mobility. There are many encouraging advanced technology
developments underway, such as LiDAR sensor technology testing
and usage, and the DHS Next Generation First Responder (NGFR)
With more than 2 billion motor vehicles set to hit the world’s
roads by 2040, solving overcrowding on roads is important to prevent
congestion and save lives. Drones can assess traffic accidents from a
new angle to help detectives and give police officers a better perspective and accurate investigation data. 5G capabilities, in addition to
C-V2X communications, can deliver direct communications between
cars and other smart objects in a city—warning vehicles of traffic,
accidents, crowded intersections and more.
While all of this new technology can help secure smart cities,
the technology itself poses security risks that must be addressed
before implementation. Because there are software components to
the devices, they must be updated often. These updates help to prevent
vulnerabilities, which hackers are known to target for access
to private data and information. Other solutions include security
built into the design process, patching, effective cloud-based device
monitoring and more.
The Three P Approach to Smart Cities
From public health to affordable housing, municipalities are building
innovative partnerships to modernize infrastructure and improve
the overall quality of life in America’s cities. Past experience demonstrates
how cities can overcome traditional barriers to financing
smart cities by investing in new technology and infrastructure
and bringing critical players and budget sources together to create
Enter Public Private Partnerships, also referred to as P3. Private
entities can reap the benefits of smart cities by investing and working
in partnership with the local government and law enforcement agencies
to share information and resources.
A good example of a P3 approach to IoT security are sensors. Sensors
that are deployed for smart city initiatives can be integrated with
public safety sensors, enhancing situational awareness through big
data analytics. However, the growth in smart city big data and the
criticality of smart city systems will make them targets for more advanced
persistent threats (APT), or newer threats to confidentiality,
integrity and availability. Success will require strong coordination
across IT, OT and Physical Security decision makers.
Another benefit to a P3 approach, as pointed out by Itai Dadon,
Director of IoT at Itron, is that in many cities, the research itself
on the ROI of the major infrastructure upgrades required to support
IoT applications is a substantial investment in itself and takes
a long time. Therefore, many leading cities have needed to rely on P3
arrangements to accelerate their smart city deployments.
Thinking Smarter for Big Results
IoT-connected smart cities provide many opportunities to improve
security and safety while supporting urbanization and improving mobility.
In establishing private-public partnerships focused on solving
problems like infrastructure and cybersecurity, cities
and corporations can work together to prepare for all
security risks and opportunities in order to ensure a
prosperous and safe future for urban populations.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Security Today.