smart city security (By Shaynepplstockphoto/

Collaborating for better smart cities

Over the past four years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Global City Teams Challenge brought together smart-community leaders from around the country to collaborate on common issues.  But Sokwoo Rhee, associate director of cyber-physical systems program at NIST, knew that something was missing.

For the first time, NIST will co-host GCTC with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate as the Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge.  The kickoff conference, which runs Feb. 6-8, will incorporate security and privacy experts from S&T into seven technology focus areas, or superclusters.

A supercluster is a multicity, multistakeholder collaboration organized around common project objectives and shared solutions, according to GCTC. The superclusters are focused on transportation, city platforms, public safety, utilities, wireless, data governance and rural development.  Each of the conference's supercluster discussions, which run through most of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, will allow individuals with security and privacy expertise to connect with smart community leaders. 

“NIST has done an exceptional job through the GCTC effort in reaching out and working with folks around the country as they gradually kept building and working in elements of connected cities,” Scott Tousley, deputy director of the cybersecurity division at S&T, told GCN. “But we started thinking about how we can do things to ensure that smart cities end up secure, and we also wanted to work in privacy questions.”

“We want to have all of these smart systems with serious considerations of cybersecurity and privacy from the get go,” Rhee said.  “We believe that we can initiate a model for discussions and create a real momentum moving forward through 2018.”

The supercluster conversations will begin with short presentations from local government leaders, academics and industry followed by facilitated discussions.

On Thursday, the GCTC conference will shift to a discussion of the Internet of Things-Enabled Smart City Framework, which was created by NIST as a consensus framework of common architectural features that would enable smart city solutions to meet the needs of modern communities.

“The purpose of this conference is to bring together smart community and cybersecurity experts without telling them how to come together,” Tousley said.  “We need to have some top-down structural recommendations to meet tin the middle, which is a big part of the third day, with the ideas that happen in the conversational process in the first two days.”

More information about the conference can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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