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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Cybersecurity Concerns Emerge As San Diego Becomes A ‘Smart City’

 August 16, 2019 at 10:13 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego officials are investing in new technologies to help the city become more advanced. But as science and technology reporters, Shelina Chop Mani explains these innovations, create questions about cybersecurity and individual privacy on a bustling downtown San Diego street passers by, probably aren't thinking about streetlights for the that, but they have cameras. But when resident Brian Walker did start thinking about it, he had [inaudible] Speaker 2: 00:26 question. So it's like what's the purpose? And like who, who's the company that is the third party source that's doing all this monitoring and what is their intentions in the first place? Speaker 1: 00:36 Eric Caldwell, director of economic development for San Diego says it's only the city that's collecting data from the smart technologies it's deploying and the intention he says is to help the city save money and become more efficient. Speaker 2: 00:49 It's about taking information that you already have and putting sensors into the urban environment, sensors into your workflow so that you're getting near real time data that helps you make better decisions. Speaker 1: 01:03 In recent years, the city has installed around 3000 smart street lights with plans to install a thousand more. Caldwell says the lights can show how many people or bikes go by, what's the temperature outside or even driver patterns and communities. Speaker 2: 01:19 That's really critical information in terms of understanding how changes we're making to mobility. Infrastructure is actually being utilized by the public. Speaker 1: 01:29 But the idea of a smart city doesn't appeal to all. There are two concerns. One is how does the city physically secure data that it's collecting? Darren Bennett, chief information security officer for the city of San Diego attended a u s chamber of Commerce Cyber Security Conference in San Diego last month. He says the city is always trying to stay ahead on security from a hardware perspective. Speaker 3: 01:52 Dev, we you follow best practices for security. We use different security standards. Um, we have a third party auditor come in and uh, you know, monitor our work, evaluate if, if we're up to standards. We also know what our critical data is and where it is and protected accordingly. But he says it's impossible to stay ahead of every possibility. There is no perfect entity, you know, there, I always joke that it's an unfair game, right? You know you have a limited number of security professionals trying to secure an entity and then you basically have almost an unlimited number of foreign hackers that are trying to get in and there's a second concern that was brought up at the same conference by [inaudible] Speaker 1: 02:33 Adam Boleo of the consulting company, Deloitte who moderated a panel of these smart cities, San Diego gonna change the way we live and how do we prepare for them to manage the risks that are going to be a submission. One sentence touched the smart city in proper perspective. It's basically security versus civil liberties. ECS, Ds, Gordon Romney says the reality of imperfect security paired with the collection of personal data is concerning [inaudible] the real problem. How do we maintain the sanctity of the individual and their privacy? Back at the city administration building, Eric Caldwell says San Diego takes both physical and personal security. Seriously, it's doing that by not only investing in it technology that's secure, but also by being cautious about what type of data is being collected in the first place. For example, he says the streetlights are just collecting metadata. It's just Speaker 2: 03:25 numbers. It's not telling you who walked by. It's not telling you where they were going. It's not following people around the city. It's not providing raw video data. Speaker 1: 03:36 This data he says is intended to help the city create helpful tools. And though he says it's only the city that's handling this data, some residents like Brian Walker still feel scared, Speaker 2: 03:48 too cold. So it's like, what are they doing with the other portion of the data? You know, are they selling it to other people that are data mining people's everyday lives? Cause that's kind of weird and creepy Speaker 1: 03:59 for KPBS news. I'm Shalina Celani Speaker 4: 04:11 [inaudible].

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The city has already installed around 3,000 intelligent streetlights that can record people passing by. That has some residents and cyber security experts concerned.
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