Government must keep checks on innovation, says D.C.’s security chief

As Washington, D.C. looks to continue its innovation projects in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s second administration, the city’s chief information security officer says innovation is about balance.

“[D.C.] is a government entity,” Suneel Cherukuri, the district’s new CISO, says in a video interview. “Innovation doesn’t always plays a huge role — in government at least.”

Under Bowser, the city has unveiled several “smart city-” and innovation-focused efforts, including GigabitDCx, a competition that challenges developers to create software that makes use of high-speed connectivity; PA 2040, a project to bring new “internet of things” technologies to the public on a segment of Pennsylvania Avenue west of the White House; and SmarterDC, a series of “demo days” that allows industry to showcase how their technologies could improve government operations.

“The smarter cities initiative actually has a very broad innovative aspect to it,” Cherukuri says. “We talk about smarter street lights, we talk about smarter cameras, smarter smoke detection systems.”

Regardless of the system, the intent is to make D.C. a smarter, more responsive city for the citizens, Cherukuri says.

“Overall, it’s going to make it easier and make D.C. much smarter,” Cherukuri says.

But even as these efforts continue, Cherukuri urges city leaders in D.C. and elsewhere to ensure their innovation efforts are serving residents in the best manner possible.

“Innovation is something we have to keep a check on,” Cherukuri says, “Innovation is not always a good thing. We tend to innovate a lot on our security map, so it has to be the right balance between innovation and security.”

Cherukuri on virtualization:

Cherukuri on the future of cloud:

Cherukuri on innovation’s effect on cybersecurity:

This video was filmed December 4, 2018, at the Public Sector Innovation Summit, presented by VMware and produced by FedScoop and StateScoop.