How will “smart city” transform our lives?

It is estimated that by 2050, two-thirds of the global population will be residing in cities, compared to almost half residing in them now (UNEP, 2018). This will result in a significant expansion of existing urban environments and lead to the need to create new ones. Cities use less than 2% of the earth’s surface yet consume more than 75% of the natural resources available globally. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2018) estimates that the material consumption related to cities will increase to roughly 90 billion tons by 2050 compared to 40 billion tons in 2010. Some of these resources are primary energy, raw materials, fossil fuel, water and food (UNEP, 2012).

As a result, cities are expected to experience challenges related to growth, performance, competitiveness and residents’ livelihoods (McKinsey & Company, 2013). Deterioration of liveability will include challenges related to waste management, scarce resources, air pollution and traffic congestion that cause human health concerns, as well as aging public infrastructure; these are some of the problems generated by rapid urbanization (Washburn et al., 2009).


“Smart cities” have emerged as a possible solution to sustainability problems deriving from rapid urbanization. They are considered imperative for a sustainable future. Reducing the CO2 footprint is the main driver behind the development of “smart and sustainable cities”. Improving energy efficiency and storage, waste management and traffic conditions are among the greatest advantages. Smart grids and smart water management are recurring themes of “smart cities”.

One main concern around sustainability in “smart cities” is that both sustainability and “smart cities” considered connected, as resources can be managed smartly with the help of new technologies. The development of “smart cities” necessitates smart technologies. Smart technologies can be costly and consume more resources. Excessive consumption of resources may lead to the unsustainability of smart cities.

To enable a better, safer and more interconnected world, SGS provides the world’s most comprehensive range of sustainability services. Our innovative solutions are organized into six pillars – all aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Principles for Responsible Investment. SGS’ support ranges from sustainable use of natural resources to sustainable infrastructures, including but not limited to sustainable energy and sustainable business practices. We help you to ensure sustainable operations and compliance throughout the life cycle, while enhancing productivity, quality and consumer trust.

Information and data security

Building “smart cities” involves the integration of data from organizations across the private, public and non-profit sectors to improve almost everything we do. Data is at the heart of the “smart cities” of the future. “Smart cities” are a target for hackers, and councils need to be prepared, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned. Sensors and internet-connected devices may improve urban services but could also be used by hackers and foreign states to disrupt or spy.

A “smart city” can be considered as a collection of integrated technologies simultaneously exchanging data within a given urban environment. This facilitates the sustainable and efficient management of assets, resources and services to better improve the operations.

“Smart cities” have potential for improving our quality of life. However, organizations responsible for designing and building smart cities face a number of challenges in order to ensure safety, security and data privacy. “Smart cities” represent a unique amalgamation of cyber risks; they will need to be collectively addressed.

ISO/IEC 27001 is the international standard on managing information security. It sets out the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an information security management system (ISMS), helping organizations to make their information assets more secure. An effective ISMS brings together information security controls and formalizes processes, as well as for paperwork, connectivity, supply chain and many other associated elements including, critically, behaviours.

The resulting processes and culture introduce a number of key improvements, including error reduction (by minimizing the chance of accidental data leakage), damage limitation (financial and reputational), return to business as usual and compliance with laws, regulations and contractual obligations.

In business terms, certified organizations gain competitive advantage in the areas of tendering and business development/retention, as they can:

  • Produce, make available and regularly update effective security policies
  • Reduce data maintenance volumes, including redundant data
  • Achieve and demonstrate secure exchange of data
  • Clearly communicate security requirements to employees, contractors, supply chain partners and other relevant stakeholders, holding regular compliance reviews against these requirements
  • Create and improve a security culture throughout the organization
  • Ensure business, legal, contractual and regulatory compliance
  • Ensure consistently high quality in the delivery of products and/or services
  • Maintain customer/patient confidence


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