Open IT, security key to smart city future

Open IT, security key to smart city future

Smart city initiatives are big and complex projects, and municipalities are anxious to avoid making mistakes -- whether that means being tied to a proprietary platform or introducing vulnerabilities into expanding networks as they work to integrate legacy data with new smart systems.

To increase their agility, cities will spend twice as much with vendors committed to open application programming interfaces and data sharing, a new report from IDC Government Insights says.

Cities are looking for “solutions that are based on open IT — modular, innovative, interoperable, and open sourced or at least with robust open APIs,” according to IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Smart Cities 2017 Predictions.

These solutions will be used not just to integrate data, but also as interoperable platforms that help cities meet their socioeconomic goals. Modular solutions may offer a way for cities to experiment with different technologies addressing security or data quality while assessing how well they help meet overall program objectives.

Discussions between vendors and government partners -- from senior leadership to implementation and operations -- will tie technology to outcomes, making it critical that cities have a “long-term partner whose entire organization understands their ultimate goals.”

Smart cities make attractive targets for hackers with their expanded attack surface. The increasing use of ransomware against cities and the recent attack on internet infrastructure provider Dyn  portend similar attacks on budget-strapped cities as they increase  connectivity.  IDC predicts that “in 2017 at least one mid-size to large city will suffer a cyberattack that will impact its ability to effectively function for one day.”

Beyond deploying security solutions to protect traditional networks, newly added sensors or edge devices, cities will shift to “proactive security provisioning,” so they can rapidly recover from attacks. They will also, IDC predicts, share IT resources and strategies with each other.

Although cities will continue to be hampered by budgetary and change management challenges, they will experiment with monetized open data solutions, predictive analytics and intelligent assistants. IDC also predicts that LED street lights will be the key platform for connected Internet of Things devices.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA from West Chester University and an MA in English from the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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