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From the town hall entrance to the data network: how communities are addressing the latest security challenges

Increasing concerns around both physical security and cybersecurity are causing local governments to seek smart and effective solutions. Lisa Brown, senior national director of local government, North America at Johnson Controls, and Jason Rosselot, director of global product security at Johnson Controls, answer questions about how cities and municipalities are addressing these challenges now and in the future.

 

Q: What are some of the biggest security challenges local governments face today?

Lisa Brown: The very first thing local governments are focused on is public safety. It’s the top priority and it impacts everything from airports and municipalities to water, wastewater, lighting and more. Cities and municipalities need to show that they are a safe and secure place to work, live and play. Security is now a large part of a city brand, as well as municipal growth and innovation. When the right assets are in place, it really helps to attract and retain individuals, families and businesses.

 

Q: What concerns are cities expressing as they look at cybersecurity in regard to automation and smart technology?

Jason Rosselot: A growing part of public safety that more cities are realizing is the security of data. As more items become connected, cities must consider how they’re handling that data from a security standpoint. Citizens’ private information is flowing through a city’s systems, even more as a city becomes smarter and increasingly automated. It comes back to creating a community where citizens and businesses can live and work without fear of cyber-attacks, particularly against automated systems like traffic control, street lights, water treatment and public notification systems.

 

Q: How has the addition of Tyco security products given you the ability to have deeper conversations around security?

LB: The addition of Tyco has made us a dominant force in the security business. From a smart city standpoint, it means we provide comprehensive solutions for local governments. We can combine massive amounts of relevant data and analyze that data in real time, resulting in a higher quality of life for citizens. All the most exciting features of a smart city have some element of security, like the ShotSpotter gunfire location system, for example. Tyco makes it possible for us to provide the important solutions that keep a city running effectively while keeping its data secure.

 

Q: What’s an example of a city using cybersecurity and integrated security intelligently?

LB: During the Pope’s September 2015 visit to Philadelphia, as well as the 2015 Democratic National Convention, we provided specialty services like a mobile app to stream video and an alarm event map for simplifying camera searches. We also enabled remote viewing capabilities for law enforcement to monitor the Pope while he traveled through the city. These efforts benefitted event coordination, as well as business owners and residents, since emergency services could answer rapidly despite the increased activity.

 

Q: What are some best practices local governments can employ to help optimize cybersecurity in their buildings and communities?

JR: Engaging the right partner to architect and engineer smart city technologies, from the intelligent parking system to courthouse access control and more, is essential. Work with a technology integrator who understands IT and cybersecurity, puts an emphasis on deploying the right products and configures them in a secure manner. This protects the municipality and citizens and returns the value you’ve invested in. More generally, adapting to new technologies, having a faster response time to alert staff, and providing the technology for staff to request help or alert other employees to emergencies are all best practices to follow.

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