SMART Cities / Internet of Things Remarks

Good morning Minister Brnabic, thank you for joining us this morning for this event organized in cooperation of International Data Corporation (IDC) and our U.S. Embassy, Commercial Service. IDC is a U.S.-based IT company, which provides strategic analysis to governments and corporations.

Today’s event is devoted to exploring this new concept of the Internet of Things and how it will affect our lives.

Before we go further, I believe we need to define what is IoT? It is a term bandied about in every sector. 

Current examples of IoT or “Smart” technologies include smart refrigerators that alert your smartphone when the refrigerator temperature needs to be adjusted.

Cars will provide real time information on performance. And not so far in the future we will be passengers in our own cars with robotic drivers! Can you imagine that in Belgrade!

We now can monitor our home security remotely anywhere in the world through our smartphones. 

Governments are using the internet of things to improve public services.  Over the last eight years, the Obama Administration has focused on America’s capacity for creativity, invention and how our initiative continues to ensure that the U.S. economy remains the strongest and most durable in the world.

An example is when the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Columbus Ohio as the winner of its Smart City Challenge. Columbus will receive up to $40 million in DOT funding to introduce a smart traffic management system to reduce congestion. They will also leverage over $100 million in private resources to implement this plan.

There are also examples of “Smart City” initiatives in Serbia, such as: the option of paying parking services via text message in Belgrade and Novi Sad.  Wi-Fi was recently introduced in public transportation systems in Belgrade.  The City of Pancevo is using “Bus-Tracker”, which shows the location of the bus you are waiting for and when it will arrive.

A group of students from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade developed the world’s first public solar charger for mobile phones and won first place in the European Commission’s “Sustainable Energy Week” competition in Brussels.

The Internet of Things may improve global health, modernize city infrastructures, and spur global economic growth. To be sure, these potential benefits are immense, but so too are the potential risks.

Connected devices improve health services but also collect, transmit, store and often share vast amounts of consumer data, some of it highly personal, thereby creating a number of privacy risks.

Just watch the news of the last several weeks and we know how vulnerable we are to hacking.

Any device that is connected to the Internet is at risk of being hijacked. As we purchase more smart devices, they increase the number of entry points an intruder could exploit to launch attacks.

Today’s event will cover these opportunities and risks. I commend the efforts of our organizers and looking forward hearing some of the results.