Inadequate funding and security holding back smart city developments

Smart cities are expected to be commonplace within the next 10 years, according to research published today. Conducted by IoT member organisation, Wi-SUN Alliance, over half of respondents to the poll said they expect to see widespread smart city deployments in 10 or more years, a third in 5 to 10 years, and 15% in less than 5.

However, half cite lack of funds or investment in projects as the biggest challenge currently holding back smart city development. A further 21% point to security and privacy issues, while lack of interoperability (14%) is also seen as a major factor in progressing deployments.

When asked about their specific security concerns, respondents point to data privacy as their biggest worry (37%), while attacks on critical infrastructure (28%) and network vulnerabilities (24%) are also cause for concern. Eleven per cent cite insecure IoT devices.

President and CEO of Wi-SUN Alliance, Phil Beecher says the study reveals some interesting trends. “Smart lighting is being deployed using canopy mesh networks and is already helping to save operational costs through reduced energy consumption and better reliability," he explains. "These deployments can be used to improve public safety and for additional services such as intelligent transport systems, smart parking and electric vehicle charging stations.

“Certainly security and interoperability remain critical factors in any smart city deployment and one of the reasons why developers and utilities are increasingly specifying Wi-SUN technology as part of a robust, resilient and scalable wireless communications network. As more IoT devices connect to the network, the opportunity for major disruption through security vulnerabilities is increasing all the time, while greater IT/OT [operational technology] convergence, especially in utilities, will increase the risk of attacks on critical infrastructure.”

According to research by Navigant, there are already more than 91 million Wi-SUN capable devices awarded globally as utility companies, service providers and city developers deploy new IoT applications and services for smart cities and utilities. Wi-SUN FAN is the network technology behind a number of major smart city projects around the world including City of London, Copenhagen and Glasgow, as well as a growing number of smart utility networks.

In a report by IoT Analytics, Miami was identified as the world’s number one city for connected streetlights, with nearly 500,000 units deployed, supported by Wi-SUN compatible technology. Paris is number two with 280,000 connected streetlights retrofitted across the city with a Wi-SUN compatible mesh network.

Wi-SUN Alliance's own poll was conducted via Twitter in April 2019 through five questions over the course of a week. The poll attracted 20,098 responses from individuals across all age ranges with an interest in technology, AI, machine learning, IoT, robotics and deep learning.

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