Singapore is a smart city-state success story at the forefront of a third industrial revolution. Today, the Internet of Things (IoT) increasingly interconnects Singapore’s cyber and physical systems, sensors and smart technology into the digital fabric that links society and critical infrastructures such as transportation, health, finance and defense. Infrastructure investment is expected to grow by 50% to about $30 billion by the end of the decade.
For the next 50 years to be as prosperous as the last, Singapore and other smart cities and nations need to develop a cyber-smart workforce, technology, policies and new risk management solutions. Because as Singapore and other smart cities become increasingly connected to cyberspace, so too does their risk of cyber threats.
According to a recent study by Accenture, The Cyber Smart City Opportunity of new IoT-inspired products, services and markets could boost the gross domestic product (GDP) of the world’s 20 largest economies by $14.2 trillion in 2030. This can be seen at Singapore’s smart buildings, where converged information and operational technologies infrastructures, control systems and sensors integrate multiple electronic systems to support building management and business functions.
The Cyber Smart City Challenge is to secure all of these converged networks and devices from cyber threats. Hackers continue to exploit smart devices to steal, manipulate and disrupt cyber and physical systems. Cyber attacks have been used to infiltrate corporate networks through smart building controls, blow up furnaces in steel plants and cause generators to fail. In 2013, Target, a large US retailer, was hacked through its smart heating ventilation and cooling system, exposing corporate networks and over 40 million customers’ credit cards. Similar vulnerabilities are prevalent in thousands of networked smart systems.
In considering what Singapore will look like in the next 50 years, IoT is both transformational and inspiring, but not without challenges. Smart technologies continue to be developed and deployed in our cities without a holistic cyber security strategy. As a result, Moore’s law is playing out to hackers’ advantage in that as data processing and storage costs fall, we become less discerning about what data we store and send and how we store and send it.
For our future smart cities to prosper and bring in a new era of value creation, cyber security needs to be part of the IoT design and human resource development criteria. This new wave of innovation will continue to be disruptive, but it does not have to be destructive to smart cities with smart cyber solutions.