Bilbao’s Cybersecurity project made the top 50 Global Mayors Challenge list

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The 2021 Global Mayors Challenge is set to be the most ambitious challenge ever with over 631 submitted applications from the cities all around the world. A committee of global experts has selected the 50 most innovative urban solutions to emerge in the wake of the pandemic to advance in the competition. Fifteen out of 50 cities will win $1 million each which will help them implement their breakthrough ideas and, ultimately, to spread their ideas to other cities around the world.

One of the 50 cities which made the cut for the 2021 Global Mayors Challenge award is Bilbao. Free WiFi available to residents makes its network more vulnerable to malicious software and cyberattacks. The city made the list by proposing a new municipal capacity that identifies and blocks online threats, alerts citizens of risks, and educates the public on cybersecurity. This idea stands out because it represents an emerging understanding that, as cities increase residents’ digitalization, they must also protect that access and, in doing so, build trust.

Mayor of Bilbao Juan Mari Aburto stated via social media: “We had the opportunity to share with Louise Ellaway, from Bloomberg Philanthropies the state of the cybersecurity project for the municipal WiFi network that we are working on and that has made Bilbao one of 50 cities around the world which are nominated for the Bloomberg Mayors Awards Challenge 2021. We are committed to the development and implementation of an alert system that allows to detect and warn citizens of any threats in their mobile phones, with the aim of improving the digital protection of the people in Bilbao”

Oihane Agirregoitia, Councilor for Citizen Attention and Participation of the Bilbao City Council, referred in her response to the Wi-Fi network that the capital of Biscay offers to its citizens, connects over 120,000 devices daily: “It meets all security requirements and protocols,” she said. “The content of those devices is encrypted with these protocols”.

The lack of ‘technological hygiene’ of those who never update their devices or disregard the most basic security measures is also seen in many companies and is a threat for cybercriminals. “Nobody leaves the doors of their company open. There are fences and gates to protect files, but what is in the cloud we don’t pay as much attention to. And, nowadays, it is more dangerous to have your data stolen than to enter and rob the company “, stated Joseba Mariezkurrena, general director of Entrepreneurship and Business Competitiveness. “We have to make SMEs aware of how important cybersecurity is. Fortunately, nowadays there are already products that can help them to be safer, but they are not yet widespread.” 


Photo credit: Adi Goldstein/Unsplash