Driven by new digital technologies, cities around the world are getting smarter in their approaches to managing services and interacting with citizens. Smart cities leverage data from connected devices and powerful analytics tools to keep traffic flowing, protect public safety, reduce pollution, maintain public assets and improve the delivery of city services. The objective of smart cities is to provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘smart’ solutions. In recent years, we’ve seen an incredible growth in smart homes, therefore smart cities only makes sense to be the next few steps in the takeover of the IoT.
Essentially, smart cities are urban areas that use different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information, which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology, and various physical devices connected to the network, such as IoT devices, to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. The technology allows city officials to interact directly to the community as well as the city infrastructure in order to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.
Thanks to the age of big data and Internet of Things (IoT), advanced technologies have made it possible for governments and relevant local authorities to develop and roll out smart city systems related to transport, water distribution, crime prevention, and traffic control.
And with a growing population migrating towards urban centers, which is causing a spike in global energy demand, smart cities seem like the most logical solution. However, there is a rather fierce debate over smart city security, with on side dreaming over a connected world and the other conjuring all sorts of tech nightmares. In fact, one of the fascinating things about the smart city security topic is that opinions and research results are all over the map. Despite talking about a single city, the opposing sides seem to be talking about two very different places.
A key feature of smart cities is that they create efficiency. Well-designed technology tools can benefit government agencies, the environment and residents. Those lobbying for a hyper-connected world say that smart cities can improve the efficiency of city services by eliminating redundancies, finding ways to save money and streamlining workers’ responsibilities. The results can provide higher-quality services at lower cost. However, when the cost is the security of your data, do we really want to use our personal data to pay for a more efficient life? Skeptics of smart cities say that a connected city would be like taking page out George Orwell’s novel, 1984, and bringing a very real and concrete version of “Big Brother” to life. However, one thing remains true: Data security and erasure is vital for smart cities to be effective.
With the development of smart cities, local governments need to take into consideration the security of the city. This includes the general security of the city and the cybersecurity. IoT devices generate and contain a huge amount of data, some of which may be sensitive. If, for example, a smart fridge has been programmed to order more milk when it’s about to run out, it likely contains login details for a cloud service, which has its owner’s credit card information. When the house where the fridge resides is sold to a future owner, there needs to be a way to erase the sensitive information and ensure that no residual information remains. This generates new opportunities for the data erasure market; however, the IoT market is very fragmented, and developing erasure solutions would be challenging. Currently, there are no known organizations providing IoT erasure software. The security of a smart city very much depends on two key factors – the limitations of the technologies used (e.g. computing power of devices) and how they are implemented (e.g. level of encryption). If these factors are set aside in the development of a smart city, it gives attackers an opening.
But the hyper-connected future is inevitable. And since this is the case, it’s time that we not only look towards strengthening cybersecurity of connected devices, but create effective erasure procedures for when users retire or upgrade their devices.
Therefore, it’s time that we not only look into strengthening cybersecurity of connected devices but to find effective erasure procedures for when users retire or upgrade their devices. Having connected devices in our lives certainly makes life easier, but it’s important that users still have control of their personal information and any data on their devices.
For more on smart disposition strategies and the importance of data security and erasure procedures in relation to IoT connected devices, be sure to visit HOBI International, Inc. at Booth 201 during the Mobile Carriers Show 2018 (MCS) in Las Vegas! Craig Boswell, president of HOBI International, Inc., is very passionate about this topic and will be a speaker at the NAID Conference on April 15 to explore the topic further.