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Saving cities US$5 trillion with smart, sharing technologies

By Zenobia Hegde

The rate of global urbanisation is growing exponentially. But while living in cities offers both social and economic opportunities, the rising costs of living are threatening to increase social inequality, slow down economic growth, and increase levels of crime.

Smart cities, and the technologies that underpin them, are hailed as a significant solution to this problem, and are set to reduce costs for governments, citizens and enterprises alike. In fact, a recent report published by ABI Research, in partnership with Chordant and CA Technologies, reveals smart city and IoT technologies have the potential to save governments, enterprises and citizens globally over $5 trillion (€4.09 trillion) by 2022, says Jim Nolan, executive vice president, Chordant at InterDigital.

Specifically, it is new sharing and service economy paradigms, and the “Internet of Things” along with artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, that will play a leading role in driving these cost savings.

Cutting costs for governments

Governments can benefit tremendously from the implementation of IoT technology and sharing economy business models in energy, water utilities, transportation, and crime and vandalism.

Energy savings is perhaps the first, and most obvious cost benefit of IoT and smart city technology. Turning street lights into smart, connected systems with intelligent on/off cycles, for example, could yield a 30% cost saving for governments.

When it comes to water utilities, advanced leak detection systems can drive direct cost savings by removing the need for manual inspection, while opportunity cost savings can be made through water waste management and waste prevention systems. These cost savings, in turn, help to reduce end-user prices.

Transportation is a major cost centre in government budgets, but adding smart technology such as electronic toll collection (ETC) vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology, as well as intelligent traffic light systems, can optimise the use of existing road capacity.

In regard to government services such as waste collection, mobile resource management (MRM) technology can dispatch, manage and monitor field workers, while the deployment of smart garbage bins can enable real-time, remote fill-level monitoring, and therefore the timely dispatch of garbage collection trucks. This isn’t a fantasy, they’re already in use in Dubai. This enables waste collection fleets to run more efficiently and results in fewer trucks on the road. In fact, this form of smart waste collection has the potential to reach cost savings of 30%.

Finally, AI-based automation for surveillance cameras, along with data optimisation, can reduce the costs associated with monitoring and analysing video footage in support of crime reduction. AI technology can also be used to complement surveillance cameras with crowd sourced intelligence such as data captured from social sites, as well as smartphone footage from citizens.

By taking advantage of these different technologies, city governments in mega cities (a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of ten million people) globally could save up $58 billion (€47.40 billion) annually.

Affordable services for citizens

Smart city technologies are not only key for driving cost savings for governments – they play just as important a role in reducing costs for citizens. After housing, mobility presents the second largest item in family […]

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Cyber threats are still being ‘brushed aside’ even after WannaCry and NotPetya, says AlienVault global survey

By Zenobia Hegde

Just 16% of IT security professionals believe that their bosses and company boards have taken a greater interest in their roles as a result of the WannaCry and NotPetya cyber-attacks of 2017. This is according to new research conducted by Unified Security Management and crowd-sourced threat intelligence specialist, AlienVault.

The research, which surveyed 233 IT professionals globally about how their roles have changed following these high-profile attacks, found that just 14% have had their budgets for cyber security increased, and only a fifth (20%) have been able to implement changes or projects that were previously put on hold.

Risks grow yet budgets fall

The findings follow a separate research report from PwC which found that UK businesses have cut their cyber security budgets by a third, compared to the same point last year.

As Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, explains: “WannaCry and NotPetya are generally believed to have marked a turning point in cyber awareness, but the reality on the ground paints a different picture. Destructive malware poses existential threats to companies across all industries and can no longer be ignored. To improve our cyber resilience, corporate strategy needs to be developed that covers how to plan for, detect, mitigate and recover from such destructive attacks.”

Increased workloads

Worryingly, 13% of IT professionals whose organisations were affected by WannaCry or NotPetya felt that they were blamed for their organisations falling victim. As a result, many IT teams have worked hard to strengthen their organisation’s cyber security in the wake of these attacks.

Two-thirds (66%) are more up-to-date with patching than they were previously, and half (50%) say that they are now using threat intelligence more regularly, to stay ahead of emerging threats. In addition, 58% carried out a review of their organisation’s cyber security posture following the attacks.

Javvad Malik continues, “Working life has become much more difficult for many IT professionals in the wake of these attacks. But the preventative measures that many are engaged in, such as patching and security reviews, points towards a panicked reaction from management tiers. Given the unpredictable nature of today’s security environment, organisations should focus their efforts on detection and response.”

Changing perceptions

The research also explored whether IT professionals have noticed any changes in the way others treat them, following the high volumes of media attention around WannaCry and NotPetya. Almost a quarter (23%) reported that their family and friends are more interested now in hearing about their work. In addition, 28% believe that most people in their organisations listen to their IT advice more than they did before.

However, despite the widely reported IT security skills shortage, just 10% of those surveyed have experienced an increase in job offers, or managed to negotiate a pay increase, following the attacks.

Javvad Malik adds, “The IT security profession remains a very tough place to work, where resilience is the key to success – particularly if you are blamed in the event of your company suffering a security incident.”

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Face authentication and the future of security

By Zenobia Hegde

Apple’s iPhone X has given us a glimpse into the future of personal data security. By 2020 we’ll see billions of smart devices being used as mobile face authentication systems, albeit with varying degrees of security. The stuff of science fiction for years, face recognition will surpass other legacy biometric login solutions,such as fingerprint and iris scans, because of a new generation of AI-driven algorithms, says Kevin Alan Tussy, CEO of FaceTec.

The face recognition space had never received more attention than after the launch of Face ID, but with the internet now home to dozens of spoof videos fooling Face ID with twins, relatives and even olives for eyes, the expensive hardware solution has left many questioning if this is just another missed opportunity to replace passwords.

Face Recognition is a biometric method of identifying an authorised user by comparing the user’s face to the biometric data stored in the original enrolment. Once a positive match is made and the user’s liveness is confirmed the system grants account access.

A step up in security, Face Authentication (Identification + Liveness Detection), offers important and distinct security benefits: no PIN or password memorisation is required, there is no shared secret that can be stolen from a server, and the certainty the correct user is logging in is very high.

Apple’s embrace of Face ID has elevated face recognition into the public consciousness, and when compared to mobile fingerprint recognition, face recognition is far superior in terms of accuracy. According to Apple, their new face scanning technology is 20-times more secure than the fingerprint recognition currently used in the iPhone 8 (Touch ID) and Samsung S8. Using your face to unlock your phone is, of course, a great step forward, but is that all a face biometric can do? Not by a long shot.

While the goal of every new biometric has been to replace passwords, none have succeeded because most rely on special hardware that lacks liveness detection. Liveness detection, the key attribute of Authentication, verifies the correct user is actually present and alive at the time of login.

True 3D face authentication requires: identity verification plus depth sensing plus liveness detection. This means photos or videos cannot spoof the system, nor animated images like those created by CrazyTalk; and even 3D representations of a user like projections on foam heads, custom masks, and wax figures are rebuffed.

With the average price of a smartphone hovering around £150 (€170.58), expensive hardware-based solutions, no matter how good they get, won’t ever see widespread adoption. For a face authentication solution to be universally adopted it must be a 100% software solution that runs on the billions of devices with standard cameras that are already in use, and it must be be more secure than current legacy options (like fingerprint and 2D face).

A software solution like ZoOm from FaceTec can be quickly and easily integrated into nearly any app on just about any existing smart device. ZoOm can be deployed to millions of mobile users literally overnight, and provides […]

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