Connected smart cities

According to the United Nations, more than 54% of the world’s population resides in urban areas and expects 6 billion people will be living in cities by 2050. Environmental, social and economic sustainability is a must to keep pace with this rapid expansion that is taxing our cities’ resources. A new framework has been put into place that allows for the creation of an urban environment to adapt to the needs of the population in the most environmentally, economically, and socially conscientious way; the Smart City. The goal of building a smart city is to improve the quality of life by using technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents’ needs. In that regard, a smart city solves the problem of an urban area by connecting its infrastructure via digital technologies where data could be collected and analysed in real-time through any devices and assets embedding IoT sensors. 

Some of the popular global companies have provided services and consultations to the city and government in regards to the development smart city. For example, IBM, a global advisory company, has been conducting Smarter Cities Challenge program in 116 cities around the world over the past four years through its accumulated knowledge and expertise in cutting edge technologies and consulting. Strong applicants have proposed projects to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens where IBM will send a team to analyse the identified issue and provide solutions after engaging with city, regional, civic and business stakeholders. In a smart city, the person will receive information on real-time traffics, personal energy usage, 

Cisco which is another global IT company that provides smart city related services, stated four benefits that smart city offers for the stakeholders. First, city agencies gain more citizen engagement and optimize operations through real-time data intelligence and intra-agency collaboration. Second, citizens, improve daily life through city services. Smart cities offer visibility into real-time city data for improving mobility, connectivity, and safety services. Third, businesses drive new revenue streams and economic development by enhancing awareness of customer activity and behaviour. Lastly, developers and vendors fuel application development of city data. Help the city improve operational efficiencies, engage citizens, and boost economic viability.

However, there are also challenges in regards to constructing smart cities. The most obvious threat is security breach of connected infrastructure and devices could lead to a disastrous consequences. In reality, the system which operates local buses and trams in California, United States, was attacked by ransomware where 30 million files were deleted in 2017. In Singapore, a medical institution’s database was infected by malware that leaked prescription information of 16,000 patients including local prime minister and secretaries. According to the study conducted by IBM and Poneman Institute, the global average cost of a data breach is up 6.4 percent over the previous year to $3.86 million. The average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information also increased by 4.8 percent year over year to $148.

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