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Smart Cities

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) jointly sponsor the 2018 Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC), which will focus on designing- cybersecurity into smart-city systems, making them more secure, reliable, resilient and protective of privacy.

Launched in 2014, the GCTC helps communities partner with innovators using networked technologies to solve problems ranging from mass transit improvement to energy management to disaster response. The new phase of the GCTC—called the Smart and Secure Cities and Communities Challenge (SC3)—addresses the question of how communities can secure their complex device networks against cyber attacks while using these device to improve community services.

The partnership takes advantage of the strengths of each agency: NIST’s ties to smart-city ecosystems and S&T Cyber Security Division’s connections to the cybersecurity industry.

Smart Cities Video


In 2014, NIST launched the GCTC and over the last three years, it has enabled local governments, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, technologists and corporations around the world to voluntarily form project teams—or “action clusters” and SuperClusters—to work on groundbreaking internet of things (IoT) and cyber-physical systems (CPS) applications within city and community environments.

NIST and S&T are now seeking to enhance the cybersecurity and privacy of GCTC projects. During the 2018 challenge, S&T and NIST will focus on building cybersecurity and privacy in the GCTC teams. This will reduce the probability of future vulnerabilities in smart-city implementations.


In August 2017, DHS S&T and NIST announced they were jointly sponsoring the GCTC, ushering in the SC3. Through this new project, DHS S&T and NIST will explore how communities using complex device networks can secure those networks against cyber attacks and ensure the privacy of citizens within a smart city. 

In support of SC3, DHS S&T will leverage its existing relationships with more than 120 cybersecurity performers, encouraging them to join existing GCTC action clusters or help form new ones. These action clusters will focus on encouraging adoption of designed-in cybersecurity for smart city systems, making them more secure, reliable, resilient and protective of privacy. 

DHS S&T also will encourage action cluster participants to integrate privacy protections at the initial implementation of their respective complex device networks. Doing so will comply with privacy laws and preserve public trust and confidence through the use of the Fair Information Practice Principles’ approach to transparency, individual participation, purpose specification, data minimization, use limitation, data quality and integrity, security, accountability and auditing.

DHS S&T also will assist action clusters in applying approaches developed in its successful Transition to Practice (TTP) program to continue leading the transition of federally funded cybersecurity technologies into smart-city strategies.

As a partner in SC3, DHS S&T will continue to expand the pipeline of cybersecurity professionals. Action clusters will be encouraged to maintain a focus on education for cybersecurity careers by helping teachers learn more about professional development opportunities and information they can use to motivate and educate students of all ages to consider cyber careers. Action clusters also will be encouraged to include as members academic institutions and universities that are National Centers of Academic Excellence.

Additionally, DHS S&T is leading the effort to bring smart cities standards to the nation’s public safety community.  S&T’s Smart City Interoperability Reference Architecture (SCIRA) project aims to serve as an interoperable framework that integrates commercially available Internet of Things (IoT) sensors for public safety applications at the community level.


For the latest information about S&T Cybersecurity, visit the S&T Cybersecurity News, Publications, Videos and Events pages.

Last Updated: 01/12/2023
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