EastWest Institute releases municipal guide for developing safe, secure smart cities
- Security think tank EastWest Institute released a guide, Smart and Safe: Risk Reduction in Tomorrow's Cities, to help municipal leaders make a secure and safe smart city by managing technology effectively.
- The guide lists potential challenges and offers recommended actions in four areas: cybersecurity; cyber resilience; privacy and data protection; and collaboration and coordination in governance. Specific recommendations include appointing a Chief Privacy Officer, ensuring redundancy, and requiring data governance agreements with third parties.
- The guide states that increased reliance on technology increases the risks of security breaches and continual attention and strategic thinking is necessary to stay ahead of the risks.
The guide highlights general cyber considerations and focuses on those specific to municipalities. It explains the increased complexity city leaders have for managing the many technology vendors and services involved with municipal innovations and technologies. A big challenge is successfully and securely integrating new technology into existing infrastructure and melding different generations of technology.
Atlanta's ransomware attack last year proved that one seemingly small breach can have a crippling effect on multiple parts of a city's digital infrastructure, or even the entire network, and have long-lasting effects. Similar situations occurred last October when the Port of San Diego was hit by a ransomware attack, and in 2017 when Dallas fell victim to a cyberattack that set off 156 emergency alarms throughout the city.
The guide emphasizes that threats to a city's digital infrastructure continually grow and so should the city's capability to respond. Policy and processes are important to have in place and frequently update, and a variety of stakeholders need to be involved, the guide states.
Public distrust further exacerbates the difficulty in handling technology security and safety. On one front, experts point to the importance of governments generally building trusting relationships with citizens and remaining citizen-centric for new projects to be successful. That can help to alleviate one of the main technological downfalls noted in the EastWest Institute's guide: compulsively buying municipal technology because of its novelty rather than fully considering actual public benefits.
Municipalities also work to manage public distrust in technologies. A study released last summer indicates large numbers of citizens distrust at least some technology and tech companies, and they worry about their own privacy when using or interacting with devices. Former Washington, DC CTO Archana Vemulapalli previously spoke with Smart Cities Dive about public resistance to municipal technological advances. Just as the EastWest Institute's guide emphasized, Vemulapalli said it's important for cities to have a strong data policy in place and treat citizens' privacy with the utmost care.
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