Technology / #TEISS16: Smart city data set to test strength of cyber security

#TEISS16: Smart city data set to test strength of cyber security

The rise of smart cities is set to present fresh information security challenges due to the increasing amount of data they generate, according to an expert.

Mikele Brack, a founding partner at Urban Living Futures, said an explosion of data from smart cities will be useful to planners, but must be properly protected.

“We are digital,” she told Business Reporter ahead of The European Information Security Summit 2016. “We all carry around devices which generate and make use of data.”

As well as using data themselves, our smartphones and tablets generate their own data, which can be used both for commercial interests and to help plan our cities.

“The more we become mobile and digital, the more data there will be,” Brack said. “We release personal data every day by engaging with public and commercial services.

“The data is very useful in terms of planning and providing the essential services that make cities attractive to people and help them remain competitive.

“Where are the hotspots? How can we manage populations and crowds?

"If we do not find ways to deal with the massive projected increase in population forecast for cities globally it could be a bit of a mess.”

Even when it is put to good use, having more data around means a greater potential for damage if it is accessed or stolen by hackers.

“The issue is around how that data is protected,” Brack said. “Data may be our most valuable asset and resource as individuals.”

While there is the occasional outcry over a data breach or an excessive app permissions request, most consumers are focused on the plus side of handing over their details.

“People can see the benefits of allowing their data to be used because it gives them access to services,” Brack explained. “Until there is a huge incident and people are personally impacted by data security issues they may not take notice.”

But as our cities expand and grow smarter, it is the job of the firms behind the innovations to make it as difficult as possible for such an incident to take place.

Brack tips small businesses to be key contributors to the digital economy, and works with them to help them make sure their products are efficient, reliable and secure.

“With a lot of smart city solutions, it is very difficult to trial them on cities, at scale,” she said. “I am trying to help people to do this, and to do it in a controlled way.”

See Mikele Brack speak alongside other industry experts at The European Information Security Summit 2016, next month at Etc 155 Bishopsgate in London.