Jul 13, 2021 - Technology

Even smart cities are falling short on cybersecurity and inclusion

Image of smart city illo
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new report makes the case that even cities that have made the most progress on digital transformation are failing on cybersecurity and technology governance.

Why it matters: Cities are investing billions in new technologies meant to improve urban life and services. But they're doing too little to keep systems safe from hacking and ensure that all residents can get equal access to the benefits of a smart city.

Driving the news: This morning, the World Economic Forum and the consulting firm Deloitte released a new report that takes stock of how some of the world's most ambitious cities have handled the digital transformation — and finds them wanting.

  • The report found that the cities — which span 22 countries and range in size from 70,000 people to 15 million — have been quicker to implement digital services than to ensure those services are safe, inclusive and accessible to all.
  • "Cities today lack the basic building blocks to safeguard their interests and ensure the longevity of their smart city," the authors write.

Among the findings:

  • While the pandemic has accelerated cities' digital transformation, less than half of the cities have policies in place to ensure basic accessibility requirements for smart services.
  • Less than a quarter of the cities conduct privacy assessments when they implement new technologies.
  • Even as the pandemic has seen an uptick in hacking attacks, most cities do not have anyone specifically designated as accountable for cybersecurity.
  • Less than half the cities have a policy in place to install digital infrastructure during construction work, which slows the rollout of needed internet connectivity.
  • Just 15% of the cities surveyed have an open data portal for digital city services.

The bottom line: The cities covered in the WEF report are further along than most in digital transformation, which isn't a good sign for the rest of the urban universe.

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