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Johannesburg, Cairo ranked among top 60 digitally safe cities globally

By , ITWeb
Africa , 24 Oct 2017

Johannesburg, Cairo ranked among top 60 digitally safe cities globally

Cairo and Johannesburg have featured on the top 60 global list of digitally safe cities, according to the Safe Cities Index 2017, released by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The report is based on the second iteration of the Index, which ranks 60 cities across 49 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

In the overall safe cities list, Johannesburg and Cairo were ranked number 50 (59.17) and 51 (58.33) respectively, while they ranked further apart in the digital security list, at number 29 and 53.

Compared to the 2015 Index, Johannesburg (which was the only African representative at the time "owing to the relatively poor quality of data available in the region") has dropped from number 47 in overall safety.

According to the Index, security remains closely linked to wealth but the scores of high-income cities are falling. "While cities in developed economies dominate the top half of the index (with the lower half dominated by cities in poorer countries), of the 14 cities in high-income countries, the security scores of ten have fallen since 2015."

Keeping in line with the 2015 report, Tokyo is the safest city in the world with a score of 89.80.

The EIU has found that the rapid deployment of digital technologies in pursuit of smart cities has introduced a major shift to emphasise on digital safety. "The technologies no doubt bring benefits. As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, sensors collect and wirelessly transmit data from physical objects, delivering new insights into city operations and permitting remote and more efficient management of infrastructure and services. Connecting apartments and office buildings to the electricity grid via smart meters, for example, delivers energy efficiency and cost savings."

The report adds that with the spread of closed-circuit television (CCTV) and webcams around cities, technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics can greatly enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies to combat urban crime and terrorism.

Cybersecurity at the core

The report also notes that the rush to embrace smart city technologies also creates vulnerabilities if investments in digital technologies are not accompanied by commensurate investments in cyber security. "Wealthy cities are making investments, albeit to varying degrees, but security often comes lower on the list of spending priorities for cities with already stretched finances."

"The consequences of neglecting cybersecurity could be dire. For example, if hackers were to shut down the power supply, an entire city would be left in chaos. This prospect is something city officials now need to plan against."

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2017, which aims to help foster a global culture of cybersecurity and its integration at the core of ICTs, Mauritius is the highest cyber secure country in Africa, followed by Rwanda and Kenya.

Brahima Sanou, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau is quoted in the report as saying, "Governments across the world recognise that digital transformation has the power to further the prosperity and well-being of their citizens. In supporting this transformation, they also recognise that cybersecurity must be an integral and indivisible part of technological progress."

According to Sanou, in 2016, nearly one percent of all emails sent were essentially malicious attacks, "the highest rate in recent years."

"Attackers are demanding more and more from victims, with the average ransom demand rising to over 1,000 USD in 2016, up from approximately 300 USD a year earlier. In May 2017, a massive cyber-attack caused major disruptions to companies and hospitals in over 150 countries, prompting a call for greater cooperation around the world," he concludes.

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