Is a next-gen architecture of security being built for smart cities?

06 Jul 2015
BANGALORE, INDIA: With the 100 smart city project initiated under Modi’s Government and the talks it has created, many corporates have changed its focus and has been re-routing its road map.
 
With the concept of smart city still evolving and the innovations being brought around, it is clearly vivid that the security required to make this concept a reality should be top notch without the existence of any loopholes.
 
Giving us insights on this and explaining what the citizens really need, Priyadarshi Mohapatra, managing director, India and SAARC, Avaya, shares his views and what Avaya is doing to bring better security solutions.
 

CIOL: The concept of smart city is still quite vague and diverse. From your point of view, how do you see this concept evolve?

Priyadarshi Mohapatra: ‘Smart Cities’ is an aspirational project envisioned by our Government wherein technology will reside at the core of India’s transformation.

A smart city is designed to optimize quality of life by leveraging technology and integrating several macro-functions. Primarily, smart city deployments will come with multiple features and state-of-the-art technologies like critical and complex ICT implementations and will comprise of diverse ecosystem of technology providers. Various devices like sensors, gateways, communication infrastructure and servers will collectively form the ‘Internet of Things’ and will be critical in shaping future of smart cities.

In this scenario of overlapping functions, the process and information exchange in the city needs to be interconnected and contextualized in a common middleware.

The systems need to be standardized, interoperable and open but also secure in order to take third-party information into consideration and ensure an overall seamless service delivery. Like any other ICT system, the smart city environment along with the network infrastructure and the Internet of Things will form the backbone of a smart city. In order to equip themselves for this transition and ensure the appropriate level of security and resilience, cities will need to manage ICT leadership and governance, strong processes, people’s mindsets and robust technology.

CIOL: Security which is required here, is tremendous. Can the current security solutions withhold such a huge innovation, altogether?

PM: There exists a need for next generation architecture to address the next generation smart city’s needs. Additionally, the right cyber security strategies can mean the difference between success and failure. The smart cities infrastructure will be IoT driven which will result in the deployment of multiple devices across the infrastructure to monitor any security related challenges. These devices require connectivity at the edge of the networking infrastructure.

The challenge is to securely connect all these devices at the edge of the city network. Additionally, these devices will result increasing the data generation within the city infrastructure thus making smart cities a tempting proposition for cybercriminals because of its technological diversity and sophistication. As systems grow more complex, become more interconnected and handle more information, their exposure to vulnerabilities increases- whether due to malicious intent or human error. This means we need much more agility to add 10,000’s of devices to a network that, in the past, would require multiple physical networks to scale and not compromise security.

CIOL: Major security providers have already started working on it, where does Avaya stand?

PM: Smart cities are about enabling new services to better service your population. This is about making your city safer, offering new services while enabling consumers to use to drive net new revenues or in some cases focused only on providing a better experience to visitors and tourists.

A due diligence is definitely required to achieve these objectives. The good news is that there is a solution to this: a next generation matrix architecture based on Ethernet transport and optimized for IP services regardless of their connectivity methodology. Avaya introduced SDN Fx for that exact reason, to scale, enhance security, deliver best in class reliability and provide the best foundation to smart cities and Internet of Things and Everything.

Already demonstrated near 15,000 cameras running over a single converged infrastructure with ONE protocol, 500ms or better recovery times. This is the kind of infrastructure shift smart cities require to save lives, enhance resident experience, and enable new services the community will benefit from.

CIOL: What do you plan to focus on while enhancing your security solutions?

PM: Avaya’s Fabric Connect provides for fast and nimble private networking circuit based capabilities that are unparalleled in the industry and do not require complex mixes of protocols or design practices. Deployment of fabric connect circuits in a specific manner can yield stealthy networking services; networking constructs that are enclosed, self-contained with strictly controlled external reachability (in or out), and with little or no observable attack profile. It is also highly desirable that these constructs be mutable in both services and coverage characteristics. Hence, stealth networks are private (‘dark’) networks that are provided as standalone services within the Fabric Connect cloud.

There are many uses for stealth networks, but they basically fall into two category types. The first being for networks that require security and isolation, and examples are PCI & Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, financial and trading applications, video surveillance and process flow control environments such as those facilitated by SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) type protocols. The second category is networks that require services separation such as Multicast, Bonjour, and again for SCADA-based applications.

CIOL: What are the challenges, you think security companies will face in regards to smart city?

PM: To address and enhance security as part of a smart city initiative, many devices such as cameras, sensors, wearables, etc. need to be deployed and implemented. All these require connectivity at the edge of the networking infrastructure.

The challenge is to securely connect all these devices at the edge of the city network. Additionally, deployment of video surveillance and analytics has been initiated as part of most smart cities initiatives.

As governments provision all these new capabilities and services to their smart cities, they will have to review their infrastructure to be able to scale and meet the real time analytics requirements. They would also have to consider adding sensors technology to address various needs contributing to making the city safer.

For instance, governments can leverage video surveillance analytics to be able to intelligently track an Emergency Response Vehicles and control the lights and reduce the time to destination and collision potential; in many cities around the world, street lights are a source of wasted energy, which can be remotely controlled throughout the night depending on cars and people traffic intensity; by leveraging real time analytics, this can be easily achieved and therefore reduces electricity consumption without compromising residents or visitors security.

I would summarize in saying, smart cities will improve security as opposed to augment or create security risks if properly implemented.


This article appeared in CIOL.comon 06 July 2015.