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A Tale of Smart Cities: How Geospatial Solutions Contribute to Urban Security


One unexpected outcome of the current Coronavirus pandemic is the bevy of sophisticated technological innovations being developed as a response to the pandemic

In cities around the world, Smart City control centers are being updated and transformed to monitor public health risks and other factors determined by the Covid-19 situation. Key to this evolving technology is geospatial data collection, as live location data collection makes contract tracing possible and effective on an amplified scale. 

Beyond public health concerns, geospatial data can be used to increase security and protect digital privacy. In this article, we will take a look at how geospatial technology can shore up urban security in smart cities- and the idea is so important. 

What Makes a Smart City…Smart?

Although they may have seemed to exist in the science fiction realm only a few years ago, smart cities and the elements that comprise them are becoming more common throughout the world.

A smart city employs a complex, interdependent network of systems, devices, platforms, and users to address urban challenges. These issues can range from heavy traffic congestion to high crime rates to poor air quality. Using innovative technology, smart cities utilize tech solutions to adjust and address these particular urban factors. 

Smart cities also address issues of public health, telemedicine, surveillance, and public safety.  With digital technology now an essential part of every normal daily interaction, consumers have become digital citizens. And with more people “plugged in” than ever before, smart tech solutions allow for a more effective targeting of urban issues for the benefit of the vast public of individuals from whom data is generated, stored, and analyzed by the interconnected systems that make a smart city run.

The more information that is shared by smart city browsers and hubs, the more precisely AI systems can interpret and synthesize that data, creating traceable trends and real time adjustments to address issues as the data presents itself. However, all of this increased public access to personal information presents a complicated and deeply embedded potential threat to security. 

Also Watch: What is BIM (Building Information Modeling)?

Public Security Threats

Most smart city tech relies heavily on the collection of personal information – where someone has been, what they have purchased, or even what their temperature is or how they feel; all of these pieces of information are fuel for smart tech innovations to run properly. But with more private information being sent through smart tech processors, there is an increased risk of cybersecurity breaches

When a consumer at the shopping mall or the airport logs in to a free Wifi portal, for example, they often have to provide their email address, phone number, and other personal information. Any hacker attempting to collect these details has a greater chance of accessing this type of personal data the more it is publicly shared. Once they have your private email address, and the context in which it was shared, you may soon find yourself on the receiving end of a phishing attack or, worse, have your details show up for sale on the Dark Web to shady operatives. 

Monitoring is an intrinsic aspect of how a smart city runs. Ironically, security systems intended to protect consumers’ privacy often do so by gathering data about the very consumers whose data they are charged to protect, storing this information for emergency response situations. 

Luckily, geospatial solutions can help mitigate the increased vulnerability that comes from sharing private information in a public context. Let’s take a look at how this data gathering method can help protect digital citizens. 

Geospatial Data

In any normal urban situation, threats abound. But the behavior of pickpockets and thieves who target unsuspecting victims often follows predictable patterns that can be assessed, analyzed, and addressed by a smart tech system. Using geospatial data, these systems are able to interpret algorithms and provide heightened on-the-ground security in common crime areas at appropriate times. 

Geospatial tech likewise allows smart city administrators to deploy personnel strategies to improve security at railway station entry and exit points, and take exact 3D capture surveillance of entry and exit points at markets, jetties, and schools.

All this is based on geospatial technology solutions

This particular technology also simplifies data in a manner that helps law enforcement respond more efficiently, such as pinpointing the precise location of an emergency call. 

But beyond protecting citizens from physical dangers, geospatial data provides advanced techniques for controlling access to digital systems. 

One example is the creation of a virtual security fence, which determines that employees of a company are granted access to company databases from within a specific physical boundary. If they attempt to login to the company network from one of the “blacklisted” areas, they are blocked and the company will be notified of the attempted breach, thus adding an extra layer of digital security based on geographical location. 

Another application of geospatial intelligence involves tracking the location of all the devices synced to one network, including public city WiFi. Creating a layered map of digital interaction allows security tracers to watch simultaneously for physical breaches and covert private network penetration. 

A Tangled Web

Smart city networks need security systems complex enough to match the dynamic, interconnected nature of the smart city itself. By utilizing a mixture of physical and digital security measures, all drawing from the same geospatial data web, modern urban areas stand to benefit from a robust combined approach to security. 

As the virtual, digital, and physical worlds become increasingly entwined, expect geospatial technologies to become an even more vital aspect of smart city planning. With these data collection processes already in place, ever more intelligent cities of the near future will be able to rely on a strong and established security infrastructure that lend itself well to a solid public safety foundation. 

Also Read: AU 2020 – key announcements

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