That font of all modern knowledge Wikipedia, defines a smart city as one that “uses digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens” (sic), and I think that’s a pretty good place to start.

So what digital technologies are we referring to?  Transport; energy; health care; utilities; education, retail and how about security? All of these and others make up the ‘Internet of Things’ although the first thing we need it high speed, reliable, city-wide (and free) connectivity.

So can we all look forward to a utopian world where we are woken gently from our slumber, walk into a shower set at the perfect temperature, dress in the clothes picked for us to suit that day’s schedule and weather, before a breakfast designed for the day ahead?  Will our driverless car take us safely and quietly to our workplace avoiding the traffic, whilst we use our tablets to read the news that has been selected based on our personal preferences and past browsing history.  The office building knows we are coming; recognises us biometrically; opens the barriers and admits the car to the underground carpark and ensures that the lift is waiting to take us to our workspace where logging us on to the secure network to interacting with peers, our subordinates and managers.

Does the City healthcare network notice that we have a bit of a sniffle and deliver some paracetamol via our personal drone?  Would it automatically book us in for our six monthly dentist appointment (don’t forget to floss)?  If we tripped and fell, the city would know where we are, whether we were alone or with friends (real or the Facebook kind) and send medical help.

Energy consumption would be optimised, waste and water recycled efficiently, the shops would know what we like to eat, what clothes suit us and tailor their offerings to us.

Or in contrast, are we facing a dystopian brave new world where we are woken gently from our slumber, walk into a shower set at the perfect temperature et cetera et cetera.

It is said that we overestimate a new technology’s importance in the short term, but underestimate it in the long term and this is likely to be true here although Songdo in South Korea is being built and developed as the first smart or ubiquitous city: in 2014 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated his aim to build 100 smart cities and China has this as part of its urban development planning. University College, London even offer an MSc in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics.  The European Union of which we are a part (currently) has also been doing a considerable amount of work on this.

You can’t uninvent things you can only seek to use new developments the right way and security innovation will form a key part in and smart city.  ASIS International, for its part has established a Security Applied Sciences Ad Hoc Council and a European Innovation Committee to help inform the debate as we move forward.

As for me, well I am not making predictions, I’m still waiting for delivery of my Back to the Future hoverboard that I ordered in 1989.

This article  written by Mike Hurst was published in Security News Desk, Issue 13

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