Robust security and consumer buy-in needed for smart city success

Juniper Research names its top ranking smart cities for 2015 and points to a number of areas of concern that need to be addressed

Attention to cyber security and better promotion of smart city technologies to consumers at large will be vital in driving the development of smart cities and the internet of things (IoT), according to Juniper Research.

The networking and comms analyst house has named the top ranking smart cities of 2015 as Barcelona, New York, London, Nice and Singapore.

Juniper Research compiled its rankings based on an analysis of each city’s capabilities around smart technology, focusing on smart grids, traffic management, street lighting and less concrete aspects, such as general technological capability and social cohesion.

Barcelona – conveniently the setting for Mobile World Congress which this year will feature smart city technology as a key driver of the mobility sector – was found to perform consistently across all metrics and, according to Juniper Research, serves as “an exciting model of success from which others can learn, bolstered by strong environmentally sustainable initiatives”.

Juniper Research recommended London, in particular, needed to place more emphasis on environmentally sustainable projects, though it excelled in areas such as technological capability and a willingness to engage with citizens using open data.

In its report, Smart Cities: Strategies, Energy, Emissions and Cost Savings 2014-19, Juniper Research said smart grid initiatives would achieve worldwide savings of $10.7bn per annum by the end of the decade, through both reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

It forecast that when it came to emissions, smart cities could save the equivalent of 130 million barrels of oil.

According to Juniper Research, there is already a strong desire to implement smart energy grids around the world, with national energy concerns, the urgent need to drastically cut carbon emissions, the loss of transmission lines and the reliability of ageing grids driving the need to transition to a two-way grid.

Winning over consumers a priority

Report author Steffen Sorrell said issues such as grid security and winning over consumers when it came to smart metering would be urgent priorities for city-level governments and agencies.

“Education is key – certainly in terms of stakeholder information-sharing, as well as promoting the full benefits of a smart grid beyond a vague notion of a reduction in energy bills,” said Sorrell.

Security in particular has already been identified as a major concern around the IoT. As many millions of small devices go online and begin to share their data, the potential for them to be hacked would seem to increase as well, according to many.

However, it has also been singled out as an area of opportunity for the IT industry, according to a recent report from Beecham Research.

Beecham’s report highlighted IoT security as a strategic priority across networks, devices and services domains.

“While many market players still see security as a cost rather than a business opportunity, this is changing,” said principal analyst Saverio Romeo.

“We see IoT security providers offering high-value, end-to-end security to service and application providers.”

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