العربية
s

Governments need to enhance the services of smart cities and build their cybersecurity capabilities to keep pace with the rapid urbanization and technological advancements

22 November 2021


Share the Article
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Catering to the demands of this ever-increasing population in cities and the impacts on business operations will require innovative methods and digital solutions to accomplish this.

The World Government Summit report 'Security by Design - Safe and Secure Smart Cities in a Volatile Cyber World' in collaboration with EY highlights the need for governments and smart cities across the world to analyze and build security requirements at all levels. It also highlights the need for governments to invest heavily in securing information and communication technologies, including all digital services, while increasing cyber awareness among all stakeholders, residents, and government officials.

This report further explores a range of topics that are essential for cybersecurity in a smart city, including, but not limited to, cybersecurity governance, critical infrastructure protection, evolving threat landscape with digitalization, resident privacy, and innovative approaches to offer adequate protection. Furthermore, the report highlights the roadmap with recommendations for governments to build cybersecurity capabilities across the board.

In addition, the report further identifies the main challenges facing smart cities, such as insecure devices, linking vision to strategy and policies, implementing multiple programs, insufficient funding, absence of unified security structures, and security controls for operational technology infrastructure.

Designing smart cities capable of providing services to their citizens and enhancing cybersecurity is a key priority for governments.

Mohamed Yousef AlSharhan, Deputy Managing Director of the World Government Summit Organization, stated that the Summit brings together policymakers, experts, entrepreneurs, innovators, and researchers, in order to ensure cross-collaboration to find innovative solutions to challenges we face today and to unleash the opportunities of tomorrow.

AlSharhan further highlighted that the report, launched in partnership with EY, comes at a pivotal time and contributes to the development of cities, in which above four billion people live today. The launch of the report in tandem with the United Nations ‘World Cities Day’, that takes place on October 31st of each year, reassures the role of the World Government Summit in supporting international efforts to implement the sustainable development goals, specifically Goal 11, which aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, given that cities contribute about 60% of the global GDP.

A multi-dimensional and inclusive approach is needed to design smart cities with cyber-secure capabilities

The report highlights the cyber challenges facing smart cities and the need to enhance government knowledge around this topic. It also addresses the collaborative efforts needed to develop solutions and initiatives to design cities to accommodate the expected population increase in the coming years.

To respond to cyber security challenges, the need to adopt a multi-level methodology should start now. Also, cities must prioritize benefiting from the development of innovative digital business environments, for instance, automation, “blockchain” technology, and artificial intelligence. Additionally, developing an advanced methodology to deal with various cyber challenges will help enhance the flexibility and readiness of smart cities, and develop effective response systems to future challenges.

The need for collective action for governments can keep pace with the era of rapid digital transformation

The report addressed the most important factors in building smart cities, and the requirement to take measures to ensure the technical development of cities while protecting them from the challenges that accompany their development. It further taps into the importance of modern technology, which forms a link between different sectors, systems, and devices, thus contributing to enhancing the cybersecurity of the population, and supporting new practices through which governments can keep pace with the era of rapid digital transformation.

Samer Omar, EY MENA GPS Consulting Cyber Competency Leader, stated: “Governments in the MENA region have shown great foresight in pursuing digital transformations that put citizens and their wellbeing first. The rapid urbanization of communities has strained both the physical and digital infrastructure of countries, requiring smart cities to focus on three core components of a digital program – people, processes, and technology. However, the shift to hyper connectivity and the implementation of emerging technologies, sped up by the pandemic, has created new vulnerabilities that cyber criminals are likely to exploit. Therefore, governments and CEOs need to consider the strategy and risk landscape behind their current cyber ecosystem so as to better understand the threats that may cause financial and reputational damage, as well as identify their roles in building a cyber-secure environment for their communities and stakeholders.”

The report concludes with recommendations for government in various domains in order to enhance the utilization of innovation and technology in developing future cities, namely: smart city design, cybersecurity trends, security solutions, integrating security solutions into smart city design, role of governments in developing, preparing and maintaining cybersecurity policies, and the need for a secure digital infrastructure.