Smart Cities: Securing Public Services

Written by BT on 5 May 2017 in Sponsored Article
Sponsored Article

BT looks at why the public sector shouldn’t see data security management of Smart Cities as an obstacle to innovation and progress

With the rise of ‘Smart Cities’ and the vast amounts of data they require, it is no surprise that public sector organisations can feel overwhelmed by security concerns, without fully understanding the benefits of this infrastructure in developing cities.

Prior to the smart city concept, there was generally only a limited set of data within a council that required strong security to be in place, for example around benefit or health records. 

Now that smart cities have the dual capability of utilising the Internet of Things (IoT), the potential application within the public sector means that there is a wider range of data sets which can be used to improve functionality in a chosen city. Within this, comes the element of ensuring IoT adapted security systems are in place to prevent any potential data breaches.     

BT has worked closely with multi award-winning MK:Smart, one of the UK’s most recent examples of an energy efficient smart city. Smart cities improve the monitoring of energy, water, waste management and more. Through this, Milton Keynes has the potential to improve lives and conserve resources but equally it has had to look at the security challenges that come with these changes.

BT was the lead technology partner in the MK:Smart project. It featured BT’s information hub, developed with the Open University and Milton Keynes Council. The hub gathers vast amounts of real-time information from all kinds of different sensors in the city. The data is being used to build smarter, innovative new transport and energy applications.

Part of the BT assessment of the smart city, involved evaluating the risk surrounding data breaches. There are security risks to the growing role of technology in tasks such as monitoring water and air quality. By embedding common sense security practices from the outset, the risks of securing smart cities can be mitigated.

Traditionally, a data-security assessment will reveal that a local authority re-quires commercial good practice. The UK government's National Technical Authority for Information Assurance (CESG) is a good resource for the public sector to ensure necessary security checks are in place. 

A security assessment of this kind can help local authorities to establish how to manage their data-security requirements. The process ensures an organisation’s security measures and resources are proportionate to the amount of risk that exists, and are invested in the correct places. 

At a more forensic level, organisations can benefit from a cyber maturity assessment in which BT can evaluate the infrastructure of an organisation’s network and IT estate, find any shortfalls or vulnerabilities and identify solutions. This can then be built into assessments of IoT solutions and help to run a successful smart city for future generations to benefit from.

Foundations for a successful smart city:

  • Smart cities require a reassessment of security practices
  • Smart cities and IoT mean there is more data that could be exposed however with the correct infrastructure, this does not need to be a concern 
  • By following correct procedures with an experienced network provider  you can properly protect services 
  • Embed IoT into these proper procedures

About the author
BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 20161, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,012m with reported profit before taxation of £2,907m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

1The results for the period have been revised to reflect the outcome of the investigation into our Italian business. Detail of which is set out in our third quarter results announcement published on 27 January 2017. This financial information is unaudited.

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