Smart cities may seem like a futuristic concept but residents and tourists in Dubai are already witnessing its benefits first-hand as each day the city is one step closer to becoming a fully-fledged smart city.
Studies suggest that the Middle East and Africa ICT sector is gearing up for heavy digital growth over the next few years and Frost & Sullivan’s latest report shows that four billion networked devices are expected to be in place in the Mena by 2020. Within this region, the GCC and Dubai in particular, is now walking into a technology driven-future, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to make an even greater impact on society.
Under the Dubai Smart City and Dubai Plan 2021, the emirate’s aim is to become the smartest, best-connected and happiest city in the world across eight key pillars – telecoms, tourism, utilities, education, real estate, public safety, healthcare and transportion – all of which are based on or facilitated by IoT. There are several different ideas of how IoT will shape the future of Dubai and other cities in the region, but one aspect of city life that appears in almost every smart city vision is transportation.
Transportation, in its various forms, has the most significant impact on our day-to-day lives, affecting every sector from logistics to the environment. In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has already worked on a multitute of initiatives that will change the future of transport. Today, the emirate hosts advanced transportation, with the driverless Dubai Metro, automated Salik tolls and taxis with Wi-Fi. Driverless transport in particular is set to be common in Dubai by 2020, and can unlock new opportunities for the RTA, including traffic management and personalised services like smart parking and electric vehicle charging stations.
The emirate is also launching the Hyperloop, a train that can travel up to 1,225kph (760mph) and is expected to cut the journey time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi from 90 minutes to under 12. The Hyperloop is based on magnetic levitation, which removes friction between the train and the rails, and allows much faster speeds. The train, which will travel along vacuum-sealed tubes at almost supersonic speeds, is due to go into service in 2020 and is part of Dubai’s efforts to become one of the world’s smartest cities.
Such innovations can only contribute to citizens’ overall happiness, making their everyday lives simplier and more conveinient. That said, with the convenience of smart cities also comes risk as data security and privacy become key concerns among consumers and businesses alike. Security, therefore, must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind if smart cities are to truly flourish and bring on long-term happiness. Consumers need to trust that their personal data is protected across all the connected devices.
Smart cities can only work if we can trust them. All ecosystem partners – governments, enterprises, software providers, device manufactures, energy providers and network service providers – must do their part and integrate solutions that abide by four core security objectives:
Availability: Without actionable, real-time, and reliable access to data, the smart city can’t thrive. How data is collected, distilled and shared is critical, and security solutions must avoid negative effects on availability.
Integrity: Smart cities depend on reliable and accurate data. Measures must be taken to ensure that data is accurate and free from manipulation.
Confidentiality: Some of the data collected, stored and analysed will include sensitive details about consumers themselves. Steps must be taken to prevent unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information.
Accountability: Users of a system must be responsible for their actions. Their interactions with sensitive systems should be logged and associated with a specific user. These logs should be difficult to forge and have strong integrity protection.
To achieve these security core objectives, strong authentication and ID management solutions need to be integrated into the ecosystem to ensure that data is shared only with authorised parties. The solutions also protect backend systems from intrusion and hacking.
In congruence with the Dubai Smart City initiative, we envision a city where all the resources and services are integrated seamlessly into daily life for maximum efficiency, while protecting people and information. To ensure this vision becomes reality, we must make sure data security is not an afterthought in the planning of smart cities but a key element that allows smart services to make people’s lives easier and happier through trustworthy, secure technology.