Barcelona ranked amongst top smart cities in the world, let´s celebrate and go bicing!

Yes, Barcelona is Ranked  as one of the top smart cities in the world , who would have bet a penny 30 years ago? Maybe not me, however I am proud of what has been done to achieve this number 1 position.

How does a city become “smart”? Simply by working on a project that merges urban planning, ecology, and information technology to ensure the benefits of technology reach every neighborhood and improve the lives of citizens.

Barcelona’s program is ambitious as it includes a series of strategic initiatives such as:

  • Smart Lighting
  • Smart Energy
  • Smart Water
  • Smart Transportation
  • Zero Emissions Mobility
  • Open Government

I am not going to detail all these initiatives as you can find all the information here. However I am still going to describe one pillar of the Smart Transportation plan :  the Bicing service.

I have been a big fan of the bicing service since it was launched in 2007, my statistics show more that I have used it 186 times since the beginning of this year, and spent 45 hours on a city bike.

8 years later. the city claims 95,581 registered users. An average of 50,000 bike trips are made every day, with each bike being used on average between 6 and 8 times. The 100 millionth journey was made on 4th May 2015… A real success!

From my point of view the Bicing service is the typical example to use if one needs to explain what does the Smart City concept means.  The city of Barcelona has successfully implemented a service that is a sustainable and economical form of transport, designed for citizens to travel short distances without consuming any energy. On top of that is it easy to use, maybe no so affordable though: You pay an annual fee, get a Bicing card, scan it at any of the 400 stations, check out a bike, then check it back in at the station closest to your destination. Most stations are located by other public transport stops or public parking. Last April the new Bicing app became available for users to check out real-time availability at stations, making it easier to plan a route if one station has unavailable bikes or parking spaces.

This is a wonderful world indeed. don’t you think? Well, what if…the bicing fleet management app or the centralized control systems would not operate the way it should or would be non-functioning? New technologies create new opportunities for cyber attackers and new challenges for cities as they must prevent attacks and guarantee the perennity of public services…. We`ll look into this in a next post.

Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds Bank hacked, where I am going to put my money?

Once again security concerns are in the news:  Hackers targeting users of Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Lloyds Bank and Santander have been spotted : they sent 19,000 malicious emails in three days from spam servers worldwide, inviting users to download an archive containing a malicious .exe file.

As of today enterprises and corporations increase dramatically their spendings to secure their network. At the same time, the threat surface available to cyberattackers is continuously expanding as enterprises increasingly rely on web, mobile and cloud applications to drive their businesses. It is a chicken and egg situation.

So it’s not surprising that web and cloud based application attacks remain one of the most frequent patterns in confirmed breaches and account for up to 35% of breaches in some industries, according to the 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR).

According to Help Net Security, Executives at major North American companies believe conventional network security solutions aren’t enough to protect their cloud computing environments, especially when it comes to visibility into impending cyber attacks.  For 66% of them security concerns is a barrier impeding cloud infrastructure deployments ( CloudPassage Survey).

On another hand, what is also quite worrying is the fact that financial services organization say they have policies in place to proactively remediate most of their vulnerability… yet big names like Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Lloyds Bank and Santander are in the news…. Again.

Oh what a bright future for security and cyber security companies!