Guest blog: Cyber Resilience around a data integrated smart city

Change, the very essence that drives our economy, society, technological assets and day-to-day life. We are becoming further developed, growing exponentially and life expectancy is reaching new heights. As citizens become more demanding and material driven, alongside complex change, and scarcity of resources, the need for improved, highly efficient public services puts us in a position of strain.

Councils are now aware of the need for adaptation in our cities, the development of smart cities and data integrated public services is the key to an efficient, functioning society. With the benefit of Internet of Things (IoT) generated data, cities now have the opportunity to improve monitoring and management of public services, through a connected infrastructure. Preventing crimes, preventing traffic accidents, building health solutions around a real-time information system, and developing communication between councils, government, businesses, and citizens.

Using Bristol as an example, and the joint venture ‘Bristol is Open’, between Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol. Funded by government, academic research, and the private sector, the initiative is to develop a smart city through the contribution of delivery, in research and strategy. ‘Bristol is Open’ with the collaboration of industry, universities, governments, and communities aims to create an open programmable city. Operating on a Software Defined Network (SDN) that uses Network Function Virtualization, allows individual tech companies to run multiple projects at the same time, on the same network without interfering with one another. Alongside a developing 5G data network, an IoT mesh network and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications the openness and connectivity with society will be faster, process more data, and cover a wider area allowing for the development of new technologies that will aid efficiency and create opportunities within the public sector.

One example of what the future looks like within data integrated public services could involve further development of Telecare. Issues around healthcare, obesity, and an ever aging population worsen as resources become scarce, especially from a labour perspective. Integrating data and sensory technology could be the solution, resulting in saving lives and reducing healthcare costs within the NHS. Constructive research has been carried out by SPHERE towards development of sensory technologies, brought into an open world environment, using data on an open platform, we will soon be able to track whether someone is about to have a stroke or heart attack in the middle of nowhere and get an air ambulance to their location in quick response.

However, data integration will encounter issues of trust and cyber threat, so steps of prevention need to be taken to resolve any issues. Education and knowledge around the subject area needs to be developed, if people have an understanding of what is being done with the data they give, how certain technologies work, and how data is protected they will develop a level of trust, resulting in the spread of data. Connectivity equals Trust.

Business involvement is necessary for the future proofing of specialised cyber professionals, through investment. For example, part of Bristol City Council’s Resilience Strategy includes Young Future Bristol, equipping young people from all backgrounds with the digital skills necessary for the future job market. When it comes to cyber resilience and security, data is protected by Councils, government and National security.

Recruitment of Software Architects, Software developers, APP developers, Automation Testers, Infrastructure engineers, and Project managers are required for the process, within cyber security. Without these professionals, society’s data is at threat and without inward investment and future planning, our future talent pool is at threat.

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