Smart city planners are building the cities of the future, but that’s no small task. There are a number of smart city security challenges that make it difficult to execute even the most well-thought-out visions, one of the foremost being security. Because smart cities are built on networks of connected devices, planners have to determine how to manage cyber risks if they want their cities to succeed.

What do those risks look like? Cities run by connected technology are inherently in danger of cyberattacks, hacking, and threats — and it’s not hard to find examples of these threats playing out. Hackers in Dallas recently sounded weather alert sirens in the middle of the night, causing chaos and panic, and Atlanta’s infrastructure was recently targeted and shut down for several days.

Beyond this, data security poses another challenge to smart city planners: Networks built on data store everything from personal information to intellectual property details. The more connected devices there are, the more individual privacy concerns cities face.

In the coming years, the value of personal data will surpass the value of the land on which people live. Hackers see data as one of their biggest opportunities, which makes cybersecurity risk management all the more important.

Key Privacy Issues

How exactly should smart city planners address these privacy issues? To start, your plan for how to mitigate security risk has to be outlined at the start of any project. Considering how much smart cities rely on connected devices, one of the most important of these strategies has to be endpoint security. Just one breach could open access to an entire network — and all the wealth of data it contains.

The other critical component of addressing these issues is transparency on the part of city leadership; top officials must be open and honest with citizens about how the city is putting cybersecurity measures in place and what it could mean for them. They must also be transparent about the data being collected so that citizens can trust where their information is going, what information they’re giving up, and how it’s being guarded.

Thinking Proactively About Security Risks

When smart city planners take this “from the ground up” approach — considering public safety concerns and smart city security challenges at every step of the way — security is built into the foundation of the cities themselves. All decisions and considerations are mindful of cybersecurity risk management, ensuring that managing these risks remains a part of everything moving forward.

From the start, developers should implement the highest levels of security and ensure that the infrastructure of the city is secure by design. This approach should also avoid requiring constant updates to vulnerabilities once the technology is implemented.

All partners in security — from enterprises to the government to software providers to network service providers to device manufacturers — must be ready and able to integrate smart city solutions with availability, integrity, accountability, and confidentiality. Smart cities are built in layers, and having cybersecurity protections in each layer keeps everyone safe while ensuring the success of the smart city as a whole.

Next Steps for Handling Public Safety and Data Concerns

For smart city planners who might be uncertain about how to build these cities of the future while keeping cybersecurity in mind, it’s important to remember that there is no universal set of guidelines. But to get you started, here are a few tips:

  • Use measures to create more public safety. Cutting-edge technologies like using facial recognition software and gunshot detection software are great, but they introduce a new host of privacy issues. To combat those concerns, do your due diligence when procuring and integrating IoT devices into your new systems. Look at what data is being collected and what type of data that is.
  • Consider how the data is transmitted. What is data used for? Where is it stored? How is it transmitted? Answering these questions gives you a good foundation for determining how to address any vulnerabilities you identify.
  • Keep cybersecurity efforts constant. Most importantly, understand that cybersecurity is not a “set it and forget it” initiative. Networks must be audited and updated consistently to account for new vulnerabilities and hacker capabilities.

At NCC, one of our priorities is creating a certification to ensure these steps are taken in all smart cities. Our ultimate goal is to help everyone provide trustworthy, beneficial solutions to citizens and city officials alike. To learn more, check out our blog post on smart city planning.