Bangkok, 13 September 2017 – Digital transformation is changing the way people live as well as the way businesses operate. Furthermore, the digital shift has created pressure for local governments to improve public services in response to the changing environment. A recent study by IDC found that Europe’s major cities have recognized the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) in integrating public and private services. Local authorities are increasingly embracing digital transformation to interconnect public and private services in order to solve problems in communities, increase safety and security, enhance quality of life, and boost sustainable economic development – all of which add up to the ultimate goal for the concept of a ‘Smart City’.
The role of video in Smart Cities
“Community safety is one of the main components of a Smart City,” Mr. Magnus Zederfeldt, Regional Director for South Asia Pacific, Axis Communications said. “A study of local governments found that safety and security is one of the main priorities behind their investments in IoT technologies and applications, and network video cameras have a key role to play in enhancing the capabilities of a city – going from simple situational awareness to situational intelligence where possible incidents can be predicted and prepared for.”
Network video cameras provide real-time data in the form of high-definition image feeds, and more insights can be gleaned from these visuals through a video analysis application. Given their effectiveness in previous incidents, network cameras have proven their worth as a reliable and cost-effective tool for public safety.
A true smart city needs to invest in network video cameras and the infrastructure necessary for sharing the data they collect across relevant agencies, including traffic and transport authorities, environmental agencies, and police and emergency services. This network of visual information can form the backbone for other IoT initiatives that can further improve other aspects of the city, such as IT infrastructure management, public transport and traffic management, environmental monitoring, intelligent street lighting and more.
Video-based smart city applications developed by Axis can provide benefits beyond security. Among these are systems that monitor traffic flow and make adjustments to traffic light timings to reduce congestion, while another notable example from the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, sees network cameras form a digital guidance system that helps cyclists find empty parking spaces.
Smart city and cyber threats
The speed with which technology is evolving is not only creating new opportunities to leverage digital transformation but also new risks and challenges for cities. IDC research indicates that the IT systems operated by city governments have become attractive targets for cyberattacks. In 2017, it is expected that at least one major city will suffer a cyberattack severe enough to disrupt short-term operations for one day.
“Smart cities are blurring the boundary between the public and the private,” added Mr. Magnus; “By digitally embedding IoT sensors into traffic lights, water and wastewater pipes, energy distribution networks, lighting poles, or installing GPS devices into busses, police cars, drones, private cars, these cities embrace the Internet of Things to improve its operational efficiency, citizen services, and urban planning and expansion. However, as various systems, technology platforms and sensors are tied together over the internet, it introduces new risks of possible cyberattack through multiple access points.
Network video cameras can easily become vulnerable to such attacks if not properly secured. In order to make video surveillance solutions secure and resilient, city authorities must ensure that all parties involved in implementing or using city-owned cameras, or feeding data to the city’s control centers through their own private video devices, follow the same security policy standards.
Similarly, city authorities should adopt an end-to-end solution that covers everything from device and video management system to video analytics to mitigate security loopholes. Penetration tests should be conducted regularly to assess unknown gaps and vulnerabilities as the city expands its scope of digital transformation.
Mr. Zederfeldt added; “City authorities who are responsible for the installation and implementation of IoT should collaborate with video-solution suppliers to understand how to make the installed IoT equipment most secure. This may include checking and upgrading firmware, setting user permissions, disabling services that may not be strictly necessary for certain use cases, enabling encryption, setting IP address filters and configuring SNMP monitoring. Lastly, even if you are confident on your security protocols, there is always a chance of something beyond your expectations, and a business continuity plan is a must-have contingency for smart cities.”
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About Axis Communications
Axis offers intelligent security solutions that enable a smarter, safer world. As the market leader in network video, Axis is driving the industry by continually launching innovative network products based on an open platform – delivering high value to customers through a global partner network. Axis has long-term relationships with partners and provides them with knowledge and ground-breaking network products in existing and new markets.
Axis has more than 2,600 dedicated employees in more than 50 countries around the world, supported by a global network of over 90,000 partners. Founded in 1984, Axis is a Sweden-based company listed on NASDAQ Stockholm under the ticker AXIS. For more information about Axis, please visit www.axis.com.