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Smart Cities

How can we protect our smart cities in the age of 5G?
Amin Hasbini
1G, 2G, 3G, 4G – now 5G is here. And it’s got a lot going for it. But as the fifth generation of mobile networks is poised for a pivotal role in the future of business, society and technology, a recent report by Securing Smart Cities has warned what we might need to think carefully about how to protect our citadels. But first, what exactly is a smart city? And what does 5G have to do with it?

Smart cities are connected
Smart cities usually occupy six dimensions: people, technology, infrastructure, management, economy and government. Put simply; a smart city uses internet of things (IoT) sensors and technology to connect components across a city to make everyday life easier for its citizens.

Sounds complicated, but it’s reasonably simple: sensors and connected devices allow cities to manage and monitor infrastructure, transport and financial systems, postal services and more. Traffic could run more efficiently, payment transactions made more secure and remote emergency surgery (think advanced drones replacing paramedics) could become commonplace.

According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), global smart city tech investment is set to reach $135bn by 2021. So what’s behind this rapid rise?

In short: 5G. This new network is estimated to be up to 100 times faster than the present 4G systems, with up to 25 times lower latency (lag time) and as many as one million devices supported per square km; that’s a staggering one thousand times what’s currently possible! This increased bandwidth brings many new possibilities, like autonomous driving, and better connectivity. But, with these possibilities come significant threats.

The far-reaching risks of 5G
As with every new technology, it’s essential to be aware of how it can affect IT security infrastructures. 5G will serve as the foundation for many future technologies; however, the security concerns are inescapable. It’s evolved from 4G, from which it will inevitably inherit vulnerabilities and misconfigurations. If 5G is to play a crucial role in smart cities, governments and industry leaders should promote secure 5G projects that enhance services but also ensure stability and quality of life for its citizens.
5G security smart citiesArt by Martin Widenka

So what are the specific risks and challenges to look out for? The 5G Security and Privacy for Smart Cities report, which I co-authored with David Jordan and Alan Seow, has an extensive explanation. Here are the key things you need to know.
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