Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dr. Ali Al Shidhani and the Future of Cyber Security in Smart Cities

Last week, TransportiCA had the amazing opportunity to attend the internationally-renowned "Meeting of the Minds" ("MOTM") conference in Richmond, California. (Also known as, "the "premier gathering of urban sustainability professionals in North America.") 

One of the speakers was Dr. Ali Al Shidhani - pictured right, Director of ICT Research for the Research Council of Oman.  (For our American followers, "Oman" is a nation in the Middle East, not an international supermodel.)

Dr. Al Shidhani gave an excellent session titled "Leading Cyber-Threats for Smarter Urban Communities," and the session's program blurb was listed as: 
"What lessons about cyber-vulnerabilities can we extract from the experience of a dozen smart-city experiments? How do cities and citizens prepare as the Internet of Things proliferates? This session will be a tour d’horizon as we assess whether our cyber-problems have gotten worse as technologies are deployed and what we can do about it."

The main takeaway from Dr. Al Shidhani's program - as we believe - was four actions government can take to secure future cities:
1. Security has to be default mode of operation;
2. Government and city officials have to be ready and prepared - be proactive;
3. [Establish] Central cyber security operation Center to monitor and attend attack incidents; and, 
4. Educate future generations on safe internet usage.

The governments of Seattle, Dubai and the U.K. were all mentioned for their work with cybersecurity.

As our editors attending were so enthralled with this session, we missed writing down parts of the steps, and are incredibly thankful for Dr. Al Shidhani's correspondence to us later with all four steps.

Below is the bio for Dr. Al Shidhani from the MOTM official program.

Ali Al Shidhani, Ph.D.
Director of Information and Communication Technology Research, The Research Council of Oman
Dr. Ali Al Shidhani is Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Research at The Research Council of Oman with a mission to push the ICT research and innovation agenda forward through several programs and initiatives.
A Visiting Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), he was also a visiting researcher at City University London. 

At SQU, Shidhani developed and taught several courses in Digital Logic Design, Embedded Systems Design, Systems Design for Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computing Systems and Programming Languages. His research interest is in wireless security and he has published 20 papers, a book chapter and has supervised numerous undergraduate and postgraduate projects. 

He received B.Eng in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Sultan Qaboos University, a Masters of IT in Data Communications from Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of British Columbia. A member of several national ICT committees, he has delivered a number of presentations at conferences.


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