How Middle East smart cities can outsmart hackers and prevent disaster

Smart cities are emerging in the Middle East, but utopian dreams can turn into nightmare scenarios. Here are steps cities can take to stop crises from happening.

CIO | Middle East  >  UAE / United Arab Emirates  >  Dubai  >  Cityscape / traffic flow / lights
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When we think of smart cities, visions of a utopian hyper-connected world may come to mind. But there's a dark side: Critical city infrastructure connected via sensors and IoT networks is vulnerable to hacking.

When essential infrastructure such as hospitals and emergency alert systems are hacked, a planned dream city could end up becoming a nightmare.

City planners globally, meanwhile, are barreling forward with smart city projects, and Middle East municipal authorities are no exception. In fact, if all goes as planned the Middle East is destined to host some of the most advanced smart cities in the world.

The impetus to build smart cities stems from the swell of  urban populations and the emergence of IoT - networks of connected devices that collect information and provide a stream of data that can be analyzed and acted on.  The U.N. expects that by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. By 2020, the number of IoT devices will spike from 8.4 billion today to 20 billion, according to the World Economic Forum.

What is a smart city?

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