Secure Connected Places: government’s new cyber security playbook

Practical guidance for local authorities on keeping our ‘smart cities’ safe from cyber threats. 

The new playbook aims to help the development and protection of ‘connected places’ which use technology to improve public services. Designed to be accessible to those without technical backgrounds, the playbook will help local authority teams to set firm foundations for cyber security and a strong security culture.

aerial photography of bridge near buildings 

The alpha version of Secure Connected Places has been issued by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), working with local councils and as part of the government’s £2.6bn National Cyber Strategy.  

Many local authorities are already ‘connected places’. These are areas that integrate information and communication technologies, as well as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to collect and analyse data that is then used for the benefit of local people.  

Examples include automated traffic management, waste management systems and smart environmental monitoring. In fact, citizens can benefit from innovative improvements to a broad range of key public services, such as transportation, utilities and wider infrastructure 

Sadly, connected places can also be a target for hostile actors. The National Cyber Security Centre recently warned that the public sector faces risks from state-aligned groups. If something goes wrong, it can have a sizeable impact on local communities. 

That’s why this playbook is so timely and useful. 

It addresses key cyber-security challenges that local authorities face in the deployment of such technologies, with resources on cyber-security governance, risk management, procurement and supply chain security, as well as guidance on how to conduct threat analysis. 

Viscount Camrose, Minister for Cyber, AI and Intellectual Property, says: ‘Connected places offer enormous benefits for the entire country, not just through improved public services for our communities, but through new innovations which will unlock better-paid jobs and grow our economy. 

‘We are already world leaders in cyber security, as demonstrated by through pioneering measures such as the Product Security Regime. It’s vital that this expertise carries over to the development of our connected places. 

‘This playbook will help do exactly that – offering practical and accessible support to local authorities as we work collaboratively to grow secure and sustainable connected places across the UK.’ 

To ensure the playbook will address the diverse practical needs of communities across the UK, it was developed with the following local authorities: Bradford Metropolitan City Council; Dorset County Council; Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council; Perth and Kinross Council; the South London Partnership; and Westminster City Council. 

An expanded cohort of 12 local authorities will now beta test the playbook, ahead of a revised version planned for publication next year. DSIT invites applications from authorities keen to take part. 

In related news, the Welsh government’s new cyber action plan aims to grow the cyber sector, build a talent pipeline, boost resilience and protect public services from attack.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai


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