Major city chief information officers (CIO) have banded together to launch their own club in the interest of trying to move the bar on urban IT projects. The club, called the Council of Global City CIOs, includes city IT managers from San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York City, The Hague, Dubai, Boston and Seattle.

“The mayors of the world’s cities cannot do it alone. We must work together,” Mayor Muriel Bowser of San Francisco wrote on her blog. The Council will be co-led by San Francisco CIO Miguel A Gamiño, Jr. and Washington, D.C. chief technology officer (CTO) Archana Vemulapalli.

Global City CIOs Unite

The idea is to share best practices and encourage a variety of projects, such as municipal Wi-Fi, movement analytics, waste management and water quality management. Free Wi-Fi is catching on in a number of downtown areas. San Francisco, for example, has connected more than 450,000 users with 13.5 million sessions in June 2016 to its network. Other cities have also seen similar success stories.

In Washington D.C., the city government outfitted several blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House to provide free public Wi-Fi, along with remotely managed, sensor-based LED streetlights, enhanced wayfinding, managed parking demand, and improved maintenance and emergency response capabilities.

Building Smarter Cities

Smart city initiatives have been around for nearly a decade. As part of its Smarter Cities Challenge, launched in 2010, IBM sends a team of analysts to a particular city to help improve its operations and make city functions more interactive and productive. As previously reported, Saudi Arabian cities have $70 billion earmarked for smart city development. Other cities have big spending plans, too.

It’s important to enhance individual existing buildings to make them smarter as well. This could improve energy usage and comfort controls, not to mention save money.

There is a downside, however. With these initiatives comes great opportunity for attackers to exploit the connectivity and availability of data for potential sabotage. Imagine what could happen if a cybercriminal hijacked every stoplight to show red at once? For these projects to succeed, and to prevent attacks like the one described above, IT security leaders must share best practices and communicate threats.

Still, the effort of the global city CIOs is noteworthy. Perhaps the increase in information sharing can help improve overall data security and accelerate more open-source local government initiatives.

You can stay current by following the hashtag #globalcityCIOs on Twitter.

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