Smart Cities are all the rage. Everyone wants to talk about the benefits that they can bring to citizens and to cities. The problem is, once you start to ask about implementation and its challenges, vendors are less forthcoming. It was refreshing, therefore, to talk with Stefaan Hinderyckx, Senior Vice President for Security at NTT Ltd.
Hinderyckx accepts that smart cities are not easy projects. One of the things he told us was: “You always have to look at what are the business objectives that we are trying to achieve.” It’s an important point. Why are you trying to make the city smarter? Is it to really benefit citizens or cut the cost of the city administration? Hinderyckx uses the example of Barcelona and its project to guide drivers to available parking spaces as an example of benefiting citizens. It is now being copied in several other cities.
But there is a much bigger issue here and one that is often underestimated – integration. Cities are not dumb environments. There are vast numbers of different and complex IT systems installed. The problem is that none of them really talk to each other properly.
Ignore security and privacy for smart cities at your own risk
Solving that problem is no different to transforming a large multi-national enterprise. It starts with a roadmap that details what is to be connected and how. But that roadmap has to put security first. Hinderyckx said: “Security as an afterthought is a very bad thing to do. Start thinking about cyber security and privacy from the beginning at the ideation phase, at the business phase, and not at the end.”
One challenge for cities is privacy. If it is capturing all that information, how does it keep it secure? More importantly, how does it legitimately use that data to fund new initiatives?
To hear more of what Hinderyckx had to say, listen to the podcast
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