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Tech

Building a smart city is possible by adding connectivity and enhancing it as a modern layer upon the emerging layer that is already in place. But it is also possible to strategize, build and repair having the smart concept in mind right from the start.

The first version mostly characterizes the visionaries, which could barely wait for modern tech to come around. It also reflects a reality where synchronizing public authorities with the private sector is difficult. Concepts, meetings, funding, establishing an agenda, explaining the projects and implementing them usually take a few years at least.

Apparently the second way allows for late entries into the smart city team to catch up, perhaps even in a more decisive way.

Once the technology is here and the purpose and the numbers align – every city-related action can embed smart devices, sensors, and systems. Later on, connecting activating them may be just a matter of software.

But do the right premises exist for this step-based strategy, where smart comes first? Or do we have to learn to set such premises as a premiere? Thinking smart first can save time and money. Besides, there are so many urban centers that fit the profile, as they have not yet made any steps towards the smart concept.

We found a few highlights on this topic in a ReadWrite post – see below.

 

A human centric approachfor the smart city

 

All those who think ahead in industry (and society in general) keep reinforcing this mantra. Advanced technology is here to better the lives of humans. It’s not about profitability only, nor should it be about hidden faults and traps that would trigger further maintenance cycles. It shouldn’t be about “deploying technologies to improve “tech” or devices per se”, either.

Connecting devices and spaces that weren’t in the digital loop so far is just one step. Done right – and with the right ethics – it should clear the way towards other advancements in society and technology. The whole idea is to make our lives better. Perhaps we could use what we’ve learned from our past and make technology materialize what we know better now.

So, smart city concepts should be all about planners serving people via technology. No nonsense, no lack of logic, no product placement or push architecture that counteracts the organic needs of a city’s inhabitants.

 

A governance model that listens to the local businesses

Since organizations (companies) that activate in the cities are in fact conglomerates of people having a shared purpose, their needs come next in line. Plus, due to the current infusion of digital technology in all things business, companies do use connectivity in an intensive way.

A network that enables data streaming to and from businesses is part of a smart city. Real-time data goes in (respecting GDPR, of course), smart decisions move forward the internal activities, and a better output makes customers happier. Connectivity also powers partnerships, R&D, educating the smart(er) humans of tomorrow and so on. Coming to work knowing that utilities, food, healthcare and entertainment are more accessible may generate better ideas, stamina and creativity.

 

Examples of smart city focal points

Just by running the scenario of a usual day in our head we can find quite a few examples. Smart trash collection could see that proper sized cars come on the streets whenever the bins need collecting. Smart public illumination could mean the lights are on when it’s dark and off in line with the sunset. How about smart traffic – for real?  Food delivery at lunch that keeps its promise of freshness. Maybe even allows and guarantees you the trajectory of the ingredients – from the farm to your plate. Better recycling of the food packages… A smart ambient system indoors. Smart parks and green areas, watered and tended as needed. A sensor network powered parking system. A better system of informing people about the shows, exhibitions and events taking place in the city.

Los Angeles loses an insane $19.2 billion per year to time wasted from traffic congestion on its roadways, while New York City loses $33.7 billion annually — or $2,982 per driver

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By simply programming a smart thermostat, homeowners can save an average of $180 a year

For such things to become the usual, visionaries need to step forward. Planners and public authorities need to shift their mindset. Not the least, cities need smart software engineers, developer, coders, QA testers, digital problem solvers.

Does your company have a smart city concept that needs developing? Do you need a reliable software solutions partnership? Contact us and let’s start shaping the future together.

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Tech

The vulnerability of Industrial Control Systems (ICS) systems is a major concern both for their beneficiaries, as well as for all those involved in the development of such software solutions. While software engineers (in and beyond ICS), know that a solid software architecture and reliable coding are the only way to go to reduce cyber risks, the users sometimes neglect the best practices in the daily use of software solutions.  When steering away from code that ends up being vulnerable, or easy to control via data breaches, as well as from its faulty deployment or configuration, the ICS-based recommendation can do no harm. They are also useful when considering other types of software solutions.

We browsed a few recommended methods for developing strong and reliable ICS software solutions, on the users’ side.

The ICS system environment induces an urgent need to solve or avoid vulnerabilities. This urgency drives best practices in this line of work. By extension, any solution with implications or application in the IoT field can be approached in the same way, even if the effects of its potential vulnerabilities are sometimes more difficult to grasp. But any element in an interconnected system is essential because the system is as protected as its weakest element is.

 

A seven steps list to avoid cyber risks, from Automation World

The list comes from a supplier of industrial cybersecurity software and services. It’s meant to provide a solid grounding for all the types of professionals who are involved in building and delivering safe and secure ICS software solutions.

 

As the author mentions, the list summarizes the “core steps every industrial company should take to secure their control systems at the most basic level”

Design your network with cyber security in mind

  • The software solutions beneficiaries/users should secure their networks to avoid exposure

Monitor your deployed software

  • Make sure you notice events and any abnormal behavior before it’s too late

Keep a tight inventory of all devices connected to your network

  • “From controllers to human-machine interfaces (HMIs) to engineering workstations, all assets on your network should be accurately inventoried so there aren’t any unknown devices, thereby enabling rogue assets to be quickly identified”.

Manage your logs, to understand the behavior of all involved devices

  • You can optimize performance once you have the complete image

Manage the configurations of all involved devices

Use industrial firewalls

Institute privilege control

 

As a user of software solutions, do these recommendations sound familiar?

Avoiding cyber risks is a common effort. Good software engineers strive to build and deliver the best, most secure products. Vigilant users should join in by materializing best practices, such as those mentioned above.

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