The protection of our privacy should never be taken lightly, and a global challenge backed by two federal entities is working to ensure that privacy protections remain a top priority.

Now in its fourth year, the 2018 Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) — co-sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — will focus on "designed-in cybersecurity" for smart city systems, ultimately providing more secure and resilient protection of citizen privacy.

This new phase of the GCTC is called the Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge (SC3), and was made public on Aug. 29 at the 2017 GCTC Expo in Washington, D.C.

“We hope NIST and DHS’s new partnership will help the teams make the world not only more livable and workable, but safer from the cyberthreat that affects us all,” said Chris Greer, director of NIST’s Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program, in a NIST press release.

Douglas Maughan, director of the Cyber Security Division (CSD) within the DHS's Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), said the expo will be "encouraging innovators from the cybersecurity industry and research communities — which have had limited connections to the smart city ecosystem in the past — to help teams understand how cybersecurity can be incorporated. Strategically, communities should take time to understand the possible threats and then adjust their particular systems iteratively to deal with them.”

Five pavilions will offer real-world examples from cities around the world on public Wi-Fi/broadband, city data platforms, transportation, public safety and utilities.

The GCTC has fostered more than 100 collaborations worldwide, including allowing cities to use wireless sensors to test water mains for leaks, or to dim the streetlights when a sidewalk is empty of pedestrians. It's these Internet of Things (IoT) innovations that "sit at the heart of the effort to create smart cities," according to a NIST press release, which also states that smart city initiatives represent a combined market potential of $1.5 trillion.