Gulf smart cities face cyber threat

Smart cities in the Gulf countries are all in a transitional phase, according to an expert.
Updated 12 September 2017
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Gulf smart cities face cyber threat

LONDON: Gulf governments have been warned to take cyber security seriously or risk their smart cities succumbing to future threats and data leaks.
The Gulf is, to some extent, playing catch-up with the rest of the world when it comes to introducing smart technology, and using Internet-driven devices and knowhow to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient environments.
Wael Abdel Samad, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai, said this is an advantage.
“Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Riyadh are all in a transitional phase when it comes to incorporating smart technologies within their frameworks,” Samad told Arab News.
“They haven’t achieved what Copenhagen, Barcelona or Seoul have achieved. But they’re in the process of getting there.
“The cities in the Gulf are fairly new so in a way easier to introduce technologies and it’s easier to retrofit some of the existing technologies as opposed to introducing a whole new transportation system in a city like London.
“The GCC has that advantage.”
But while regional capitals have a simpler task in introducing smart technologies, they have been warned that only by understanding the security implications of that now can they avoid problems later.
Vince Warrington has advised governments and large multinationals about cyber security and says that while a future of self-driving cars and a reduced carbon footprint is something to get excited about, one with power failures and leaked data is not.
“Governments need to be aware of the dangers at the start of implementing smart technology — sometimes security comes as an afterthought,” said Warrington, the director of cyber security consultancy Protective Intelligence.
“Security is seen as boring and not adding … value. But everyone needs to be more aware of the cyber threat and governments need to introduce regulation.”
Security failures in smart cities could range from data leaks, such as the one that affected Britain’s National Health Service earlier this year, to self-driving cars crashing in the event of their operating systems being hacked.
For Warrington, the problem is one of letting technology run ahead of both policy and practicality.
“In the aviation industry, there used to be what was known as the tombstone principle, where the industry would only think about how to make flying safer once there had been a crash. Now they are obviously far more proactive, and anticipate everything that could go wrong before it does.
“In smart cities, I think there is still that tombstone mindset. Policymakers need to be sensible and right at the start think about potential threats not after they occur. That is a concern.”
That view is echoed by Samad, who this summer directed a workshop on the future of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) smart cities at Cambridge University.
“When it comes to technology you have to take a risk and at some point implement it,” he said.
“Technology is ahead of policy. For example, the technology is out there. When it comes to autonomous cars Tesla has already done it. But do cities have proper transportation policies and laws in that regard? The answer is no.
“That is always going to be the case. Technology will present something and then policies will have to catch up and government will have to catch up too.”
Samad also warned governments to take stock and decide what they want to get out of smart technology.
“Every city is different. For example, Dubai has its own roadmap to arrive at what their version of a smart city is, which is different to Riyadh. Cities are different and have their own targets,” Samad said.


Gaza tear gas baby left off official death count

Updated 25 May 2018
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Gaza tear gas baby left off official death count

GAZA CITY: A baby who died near the Gaza border was not included in a Gaza health ministry list of Palestinians killed by the Israel army, after a dispute over how she died.
The ministry and family members originally said 8-month-old Leila Al-Ghandour had died after inhaling tear gas along the border during a day of clashes in which at least 61 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire.
The Israeli army disputed the claim, calling it “fake news” by Hamas, the movement that rules the coastal enclave.
The army claimed she had a pre-existing medical condition, citing an unnamed doctor with access to her file.
A full list of those the ministry called “martyrs,” published this week for the first time, did not include Ghandour.
The health ministry has said a full review of her death was underway.
Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesman for the ministry, said her name would not be included until the review was completed, without giving a time frame.
“Her name was not included in earlier lists either,” Qudra told AFP, though no exhaustive list had previously been made public.
“The investigation will determine (whether she had a pre-existing condition) and if the inhaled gas contributed to her death.”
At least 61 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on May 14th when thousands of Palestinians protested as the US officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to the ministry’s figures.
At least 114 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since mass demonstrations broke out on March 30th, it said.
This was several lower than previous tolls compiled by AFP on the basis of the ministry’s reports.
The ministry’s list does not include those whose bodies were not recovered by Palestinian medics.
The Israeli army is believed to have kept the bodies of several people shot near or along the border.
The army did not immediately respond to questions about the number of bodies it may be holding.