Dubai – MENA Herald: Public-private partnerships between Silicon Valley tech firms and governments are driving best practices in Smart City cybersecurity standards, with a major market in the Middle East.

As more public and private sector organisations, industrial systems, and billions of mobile devices are connected to the Internet, securing Smart Cities has never seen greater urgency.

Nearly half, 45 percent, of Middle East, Turkey, and Africa organisations reported cyber-security incidents in Q1 2016, according to Russian-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. As a result, the Middle East cybersecurity market will reach about USD 10 billion by 2019, double the USD 5 billion size in 2014, according to research firm Markets and Markets.

In anticipation of this continued growth, global tech firms and governments around the world are signing public-private partnerships to help Smart Cities reimagine resiliency and protect critical national infrastructure in the Digital Age, from Silicon Valley to London to Dubai.

“In the Autonomous Age, Arabian Gulf governments are at the forefront of adopting global innovations, integrating Smart Cities, and Internet of Things and Services,” said Keith Kaplan, CEO and Co-Founder of the Tesla Foundation, a US-based science and technology think tank, who is speaking on Smart Cities at GITEX Technology Week today, one of the world’s most influential technology events, which is set to host more than 4,000 exhibiting companies, 64 participating countries, 230 speakers, and more than 410 startups from over 60 countries.

United Arab Emirates Delivers World-Class Smart Cities Vision

Gulf governments are investing in Smart City projects, across Dubai, Masdar City, and Sharjah in the UAE, the four Economic Cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Lusail City in Qatar.

Dubai aims to be the world’s smartest city by 2017. To reach this goal, Dubai’s government is partnering with the International Telecommunications Union on Smart City benchmarks, and is pioneering government use of drones, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles.

“Smart Cities create exciting new opportunities for solutions, safety standards, and public-private partnerships for developing the high-skill careers of tomorrow,” added Keith Kaplan.

DarkMatter, an international cyber security firm headquartered in the UAE, is well-aligned to the UAE government’s digitisation initiatives, and is looking forward to working closely with the private and public sectors to raise awareness of the importance of cyber security resiliency within a digital nation.

“While there is significant excitement about the UAE’s Smart City initiatives, cyber security standards from the IT era need to be urgently updated to the Internet of Things era. We believe the UAE government has the vision to set world-class Smart City standards and share them globally – protecting businesses,” said Faisal Al Bannai, CEO, DarkMatter.

United States Leads in Cyber-Security Preparedness

Global cyber-crime will escalate to a USD 2.1 trillion problem by 2019, according to a recent report by IBM and the US-based information security research centre the Ponemon Institute. Corporate cyber-attacks have grown six-fold, from 27,000 in 2014-2015 to 158,000 in 2015-2016, according to Russian-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

The United States ranks as the world’s top country in cybersecurity commitments, according to the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union. American cybersecurity is boosted by Department of Homeland Security initiatives such as assessments that measure risks to critical national infrastructure, and a recent USD 500 million fund for Smart Cities.

Dr Phyllis A Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, will speak on securing Smart Cities. She will be joined by Dr Jonathan Reichental, CIO of the City of Palo Alto, who will present on creating the city’s digital roadmap.

GITEX will host leading global cybersecurity firms and international Smart City speakers, and present engaging opportunities to develop new business and public-private partnerships.

With the GITEX Global Startup Movement set to be the world’s most global week-long startup showcase in 2016, Smart City technology startups will be in focus. Keith Kaplan will serve as one of the judges in the Pitch Competition, with startups pitching to win USD 160,000 to take their innovations globally.

“Aligned with the UAE government’s vision for innovation, GITEX is committed to bringing together the world’s most innovative cybersecurity firms, researchers, innovators, and startups under one roof to drive the next era of Smart City innovation – starting from the Arabian Gulf,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice-President, Exhibitions and Events Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.