There are at least three extremely compelling reasons why smart cities take security and privacy seriously in the context of energy as these three targets demonstrate.
Publish privacy rules. Smart meters have raised privacy concerns around the world. People worry that their daily habits are being tracked by their local utility via smart meters, which is why smart cities not only publish and adhere to privacy rules but they let citizens know about it proactively. Making privacy a priority can help ward off consumer backlash that could stall smart energy deployments.
Create a security framework. Security breaches can have a ripple effect. Developing a comprehensive security framework mitigates risk by identifying and addressing threats before they can cause damage. This is critical in the energy infrastructure – even more so given its inherent importance to the operation of other key infrastructures.
Implement cybersecurity. Cyber attacks against energy companies in the U.S. have been well-documented. But what were once thought to be attempts to steal information or trade secrets are now focused on causing serious damage to networks and equipment, according to warnings from the U.S. government. The take-away here for cities is that implementing cybersecurity safeguards early on maximizes protection while avoiding the potentially significant costs associated with an attack.
There is a tremendous amount of data pouring in from sensors, smart meters and other intelligent devices deployed throughout the energy infrastructure of a smart city.
Create and adhere to a citywide data management, transparency and sharing policy. Energy usage data should be integrated in the policy that was discussed in detail in the Universal chapter. And as noted in the previous section, energy usage data needs to comply with overall security and privacy rules.
That said, access to timely, accurate energy usage data is an essential component of a cleaner, more efficient energy system. So it’s imperative that local utilities grant cities access to aggregated, summary usage data which can be invaluable for city planning, for carbon reduction programs, for energy efficiency programs, for low-income assistance programs, for improving city performance and for many other purposes.
To promote energy efficiency, it’s also important for smart cities to encourage utilities to give electric and gas customers access to their own usage data. For example, cities can provide a web portal for viewing and managing energy usage in real time. That way customers can drill down on when and how they use energy to make choices and trade-offs that can reduce their energy usage and utility bills.