Building Smart Cities From Big Data

Since the introduction of smartphones, the term “smart” has been added in front of just about anything that connects to the internet, from smart home appliances to smart cars, and now smart cities. Despite hearing this term for a decade now, many of us are still confused about what it really means.

The core element that constitutes “smart” is not internet connection, but data sharing and analysis. A smart device goes beyond generating and collecting data, but also takes part in sharing and analyzing data into useful information. Such information would then be used for maximizing efficiency and eliminating deficiencies. 

For example, a smart speaker utilizes a massive database of speech patterns and learns those patterns in order to provide the optimal response to the user’s request. A smart car utilizes a database of traffic patterns and combines them with real-time transportation data to provide a smooth transportation experience.


What are smart cities?


Just like other smart things, a smart city can be seen as a giant smart device that shares data through information and communication technologies (ICTs), and analyzes them to gain useful insights. In more specific terms, a smart city collects data through various Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, and uses these data to generate useful information to optimize the functioning of the city.

Simply put, the two ultimate goals for a smart city is to drive sustainability by saving resources, and to improve livability by optimizing city functions.


How to build a smart city?


Governments of major metropolitan centers across the globe have started their own initiatives towards building a smart city. Smart city projects have already been implemented in cities like Madrid, Amsterdam, Dubai, Singapore, Seoul, and New York.

In South Korea, a market where Penta Security is highly involved in, smart city programs have started to take off. Its capital city Seoul is planning and implementing some of the most ambitious smart city projects. Last year, the metropolitan government of Seoul announced its plan to invest a total of 1.4 trillion won, or roughly 1.15 billion US dollars, on smart city projects.

In order to better understand how a smart city is built, let’s take a look at what Seoul has been working on.


Smart environment

Seoul is currently installing 50,000 IoT sensors within the city to collect environmental data including air and noise pollution, UV rays, and population density. Residents can look for this information in real-time to plan their daily activities. The city also collects data on road surface temperature to determine where to install heating cables.


Smart services

Before building new public services, the government analyzes population data to gain insights on where a service is most needed, so that every service can be built with the optimal capacity at the optimal location. This is especially useful for building welfare infrastructure such as public health facilities and daycare centers.

During the development process, the city also utilizes 3D simulation to see how new facilities fit with the surrounding community, ensuring they are both practical and aesthetically pleasing.


Smart mobility

We cannot talk about smart mobility without mentioning autonomous driving. Seoul has completed the world’s first 5G autonomous driving testbed at Digital Media City, preparing itself for a fully connected mobility environment.

The city has also built a shared parking lot system equipped with IoT sensors. Residents can use a mobile app to gain real-time information on parking space availability, make reservations, and make payments. More than 500 public parking lots are currently enrolled, with the number expected to reach 3,000 by 2022. 

In terms of public transportation, the city has rolled out a series of night-time bus routes. During the planning process, data of three billion mobile phone calls with their time and location were analyzed in order to identify the locations with the highest demand. Currently used by 10,000 people daily, the new routes turned out to be highly efficient.


Smart policing

Intelligent surveillance cameras are used in public spaces, automatically analyzing real-time footage to detect abnormal activities such as fights, arson attacks, and traffic accidents. Street lights are equipped with sensors that automatically light up when pedestrians pass by, so that no dark spot is left open at night, saving energy while enhancing safety.


Smart healthcare

Seoul is also actively involved in the healthcare industry to provide smart care services for seniors. It is currently working with public healthcare facilities to securely retrieve medical data, which it uses to identify physically vulnerable individuals. It will then help ensure the safety of these individuals by monitoring their electricity and water usage in real-time. If no change in usage is detected, an alarm will be sent immediately to a social worker in charge. This service has already been implemented for 1,000 vulnerable households, and is expected to reach 4,000 households by 2022.


Security infrastructure for smart cities


Building a smart city based on big data comes with its security risks. Integrating every IoT element into one massive network means that many critical functions of the city would be bound together, which also means that cyberattackers have more entry points to choose from.

Without proper security measures, smart cities can quickly turn into chaos. As we have always emphasized, the more we rely on technology and automation, the more blurry the boundary between the real world and cyberworld. In the case of smart cities, cybersecurity is directly tied to physical safety. Criminals could attack major infrastructures to disrupt service, and take advantage of such disruptions to conduct illegal activities. Service disruptions on public transportation, electricity, and healthcare pose significant threat to our economy and society. We have seen recent cyberattacks on healthcare providers, some of them causing critical surgeries to be delayed (ZDNet). Another severe case would be an attack on autonomous vehicles, which indeed has life-threatening consequences.

Apart from safety, privacy is another concern. A smart city shares tons of data with millions of devices. Some of these data could contain personally identifiable information, which must be encrypted and secured with blockchain technology. Surveillance footage is also concerning for many who worry about exposing their daily activities.


Penta Security’s role in building smart cities


With abundant experience in designing public key infrastructures (PKIs) for governments as well as security solutions for financial institutions, Penta Security is actively involved as a security infrastructure provider for smart cities. Working with government ministries and infrastructure providers, Penta Security has been playing a key role in securing a wide range of smart infrastructure projects in the fields of mobility, transportation, energy, and environment.

As these smart infrastructures become increasingly connected, forming a massive network, Penta Security is currently focusing on developing an integrated solution for smart cities. 


Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government


Check out Penta Security’s product lines:

Web Application Firewall: WAPPLES

Web Application Firewall for Cloud: WAPPLES SA

Database Encryption: D’Amo

Authentication: ISign+ 

Smart Car Security: AutoCrypt