Urenio Watch Watch: Intelligent Cities / Smart Cities

Smart Cities on the rise despite risks

The global drive towards the establishment of Smart Cities is well known. This drive could prove to be the only viable solution to the overwhelming tendency towards urbanisation which is predicted in the following decades, with demand for hundreds of new cities or communities within existing cities, especially in Asia.
As a result, there has been an uptick in the smart city market in the last couple of years, with Asia and the Middle East being the biggest clients, and giant multinational innovative companies such as Cisco Systems, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies being called to develop the internet-friendly structure which will provide the very fabric of the new smart cities. However, these developments carry considerable risk. Smart cities could end up being used as political footballs, useful to win votes, but also potential early casualties of financial squeezes.

Additionally, much of the work accomplished to date has been carried out by a diverse mix of national/local government and public/private sector agencies,  each with their own agendas and biases,  and the mooted super-system of systems is unlikely to emerge soon or in any usable form  due to a lack of technological consistency and compatibility. Technology providers also have different views on how to implement super-systems. There are no standards in place and we  may see many smart cities emerge over the next decade that are incapable of supporting even the simplest new innovations in technology. Security and data privacy are treated as an after-thought. Somebody else’ s problem, effectively, according to several people I spoke to. This is worrying if the majority of systems are to be routinely deeply interconnected in the future. A simple virus could shut off the national grid, crash aircraft, or send nuclear reactors critical.

Despite those risks, however, the interest on Smart Cities is on a steady rise. This creates an even bigger need to be aware of the risks and come up with possible ways of facing them. Conferences like the recent Smart Cities Europe 2012 Summit or reports such as the Business Monitor International’s forthcoming Special Report can call attention to the risks involved in this rapid growth of the smart city and in making all critical systems too interdependent.

The original article can be found here.