What will the future of our cities look like?

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    Thursday11Jun 2020
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    Guest blog: Matt Lewis, Research Director at NCC Group, on the future of cities in a post COVID-19 world - part of #procuring4growth campaign week.

For those that work and live in urban spaces, the components of a smart city shape our everyday lives. From street parking sensors to waste management systems and street lighting, an ever-increasing range of technology shapes our experiences of and interactions with cities.  

Smart city technology brings with it a multitude of opportunities, as well as security risks. As we continue to explore how smart city technology can make cities safer, cleaner and more sustainable, security must be part of the conversation.  

How will COVID-19 change smart city technology? 

The risks posed by COVID-19 mean that in the near future, we’re likely to see a more health-related focus when it comes to smart city applications. 

This may lead to far more of a focus on crowd and symptom-tracking applications – types of technology that could play a significant role in potential regional or localised lockdowns in the future.  

For example, these types of applications could highlight where to send police to disperse gatherings and provide local authorities with information about crowding when it comes to public transport. Smart city technology could also be used to automatically shut stations when they are too congested, or send notifications to people’s phones warning them about crowded transport and encouraging them to use alternative routes.  

We could also see an increased push for more autonomous delivery vehicles to minimise the risk to human couriers, as well as smart office and building technology that can detect temperature and humidity in order to gauge the safety of a space. 

How can we create a secure future for smart cities? 

Now more than ever, as we look to rapidly make changes to the way that people navigate cities, it’s crucial that resilience is built into every individual piece of technology that sits behind this. 

And this isn’t just the responsibility of local authorities, planners and developers – device manufacturers, third-party integrators and those that build, deploy and operate smart city applications must also ensure that security is built into the fabric of every component of technology.  

With smart city technology becoming ever-more ubiquitous, the security challenges around availability and privacy are also increasing in importance. Going forward, the availability of these systems will be paramount, and if hackers are able to take them offline it could cause widespread disruption and damage.  

Using smart city technology for crowd-tracking could also lead to concerns and questions around privacy, making it even more important to implement data protection into its design and development.  

To take advantage of the opportunities that smart city technology can bring, security must be a priority from the outset. Our whitepaper sets out a blueprint for secure smart cities, delving into what security by design means in this context and how it could transform our urban spaces – to find out more, download our whitepaper here.  

Matt Lewis, research director at NCC Group 

To read more from #procuring4growth Campaign Week visit our landing page by clicking here.

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