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Putting the “Smart” in Smart Cities

It is acknowledged by most, that cyber security is of paramount importance in any technological advancement and Smart Cities are no different.

The Mayor of London recently unveiled his plan to make London the world’s smartest city; recognising that Londoners treat digital connectivity as importantly as they do other basic utilities. The Mayor’s “Smarter London Together”, published in June 2018, emphasised the importance of cybersecurity in one of its five key missions. Mr Khan plans to support public service providers with data-led initiatives through a designated London Office for Data Analytics and establish a city wide strategy for cybersecurity.

The prioritisation of cybersecurity seems to be a smart move. According to ISACA’s 2018 Smart Cities Survey, energy, communications and financial services are the three critical infrastructure systems most susceptible to cyberattacks. Of those attacks, malware/ransomware and denial of service attacks were found to be most crippling. These systems form the very foundations of any city, be it smart or otherwise.

What does all this mean for the property owner?

The hot topic at the moment is data breach, following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation and potentially eye-watering fines. It’s easy to see why. Property managers should certainly keep their own house in order and consider the data they collect from tenants, employees and service providers etc. They should also give thought to the data that they may be less aware of, such as information collected for security purposes from CCTV cameras, ID cards, passes and security gates.

There may be an even weaker link: the building management system (BMS). BMSs are increasingly sophisticated and the systems they control have become ever more connected. These cyber “bridges” linking the various services of the building not only offer a platform to launch a widespread data breach but also expose the property owner to physical disruption. It’s not difficult to imagine the chaos that could result from a hacker or terrorist gaining control of the lifts, heating and cooling systems or access controls to a property.

What should I do?

Property owners need to ensure that they have the appropriate level of security in place, both physically and virtually. They should review the data they hold and how they use it. Finally, they should have an eye to the future when entering into new leases and insurance policies to make sure they cover the emerging risks and costs as well as the existing ones.

No city is smart without cyber security.

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