The security challenge of smart cities

Last updated: 17 December 2019

So much has been said and written about smart cities over the past five to ten years that it is tempting to say that there is nothing more to be discussed on the subject.

However, in an interesting post earlier this year, Usman Haque talked about the need for smart city experts to go beyond thinking simply of the ‘internet of things’ and start considering smart cities, which are dictated by the desires of their citizens. Rather than taking a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to smart cities, we should be encouraging the populations of these cities to create the digital infrastructure that suits them best.

This is almost certainly the correct approach, but it relies on one crucial factor: trust. For the scenario that Usman envisages to be achievable, citizens must be happy to share the data that results from every facet of their daily life as, without this, it will be impossible to build a city that is fully attuned to the needs of its citizens.

For normal members of the public to share their data with complete confidence, it needs to be certified. And this is where a TSM (Trusted Service Manager) comes into play. TSMs give consumers and businesses confidence that the data they create will only be shared with the people that they have permitted access to. Look at things this way and it is clear that it is almost impossible to envisage any smart city without a TSM playing a key role.

We all want to live in cleaner, friendlier and more efficient cities, but in order to get there we need to be confident we are all pulling in the same direction. TSMs are the crucial factor which can convince citizens that the city is on their side.