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Report Questions Local Authority Ability To Safeguard Data

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Report questions whether local authorities have capability to combat cyber threats and safeguard personal data

A new report from Future Cities Catapult has highlighted the latest trends taking place in cities around the UK.

The report highlighted a few real world trends (i.e air quality schemes, driverless cars, devolution etc), but also pointed to steps cities such as Belfast and Aberdeen are taking with their smart city plans.

And the report also raised questions on the ability of local authorities to manage personal data and deal with cyber security attacks, in light of the recent WannaCry ransomware attacks that swept across the world in May this year.

Huawei smart city
City Trends

“The global WannaCry ransomware attacks contributed to a sharpened focus on cyber security this quarter,” the report stated. “The Department for Transport published guidance on cyber security for connected and automated vehicles and it was reported that just over half of UK local authorities are prepared to deal with a cyber attack.”

But it added that the capacity of local authorities to manage data is also in question.

“A survey found that just 34 percent of respondents trusted their council to manage their personal data,” said the Future Cities report.

“This was also exposed by reports of data breaches in Newcastle, Nottinghamshire and Plymouth. Similar concerns were raised in a survey on the Internet of Things (IoT), which found that citizens largely support the convenience and benefits of connected devices but had concerns over security.”

The report also touched upon the UK’s largest trial of connected and autonomous vehicle technology, after the UK Autodrive consortium successfully completed its proving ground trials.

It cited the fact that there has been a 50 percent year-on-year increase in registrations for electric vehicles.

“Managing the ongoing growth and complexity of our cities requires the very best of human ingenuity, and fortunately the UK has a wealth of innovative companies that can help,” said Nicola Yates, CEO at Future Cities Catapult. “We call this the advanced urban services sector.”

“In this and in future issues, our City Innovation Brief will show how cities across the UK are harnessing advanced urban services to help them become more productive, sustainable, inclusive, resilient, and more liveable.”

“We’re very happy to launch the first quarterly City Innovation Brief, which acts as a knowledge resource for busy city managers looking to keep pace and know what others are doing,” explained Sam Markey, Head of Relationship Development at Future Cities Catapult.

“By highlighting the movers and shakers, as well as showcasing the innovation underway in cities, the report informs the market on places ‘beyond the usual suspects’ that they might find value in approaching,”

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Smart Cities

The concept of smart cities is starting to gain real traction across the UK.

This week for example Cardiff rolled out smart parking technology, allowing visitors and residents in the city to find empty spaces using a smartphone application. Last month Bristol outstripped London as the UK’s leading smart city, due to its efforts to spark innovation programmes and integrate technology initiatives with the city’s over all development.

In an effort to regain its title, in August London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan hired London’s first ever Chief Digital Officer (CDO). Theo Blackwell was appointed as CDO and is responsible for helping help Mayor Khan fulfil his desire for London “to be the world’s leading ‘smart city’.

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