Durban is the SmartCity of Africa with a complete fibre-optic network able to share its broadband access to vital services, businesses, schools, hospitals and tertiary institutions. However the global drive towards communication security has prompted it to leap into the Quantum regime. The QuantumCity project allows the vital services of the City to communicate securely. Such a network paves the way for further roll out of quantum security solutions to other clients of the eThekwini Municipal network creating the first Quantum City in the World. Such a network will be of interest to government agencies, finance houses and large corporate clients in securing their confidential data.
The QuantumCity project is led by the Centre for Quantum Technology and the Innovation Company of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in partnership with idQuantique and Senetas Corporation, leading companies in quantum and classical encryption. The project is funded by the eThekwini Municipality and the Innovation Fund (an instrument of the National Research Foundation). City Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe, believes that quantum information and communication technology will not only boost the transformation of the Municipality into a high-tech information-driven organization, but also turn Durban into an incubator for future technologies.
With the introduction of the new technology the eThekwini’s concept of a SmartCity has taken a quantum leap with the implementation of quantum security over the eThekwini municipal fibre-optical network. This quantum network is designed to provide ultra-secure communication. The quantum network consists of four nodes in a Municipal Area Network star configuration linking municipal buildings in Pinetown and Westville. The security of quantum cryptography is based on the physical principles of quantum mechanics, rather than on the algorithmic procedures of classical cryptography.
With the cryptographic key providing the uniqueness, and hence security, of the encryption algorithm, the focal challenge in the field of cryptography is the key distribution process. Conventional methods to overcome this hurdle, such as public key cryptography, take advantage of complexities in mathematical algorithms. However, the enhancement of computing power, with the advent of the quantum computer, and the vulnerability of classical cryptographic techniques to mathematical advancement, has the potential to compromise and discredit the long-term security of critical data.
Quantum cryptography provides a means of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Professor Francesco Petruccione, head of the Research Centre states, “This shifts the security of cryptographic protocols from mathematical complexities to the intrinsic physical behaviour of quantum particles. Thus the security is upheld through the laws of quantum mechanics”. Essentially, any observation of a quantum system infers a change of state of the system thus modifying the key and permitting the detection of an eavesdropper. This is formalised through Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle which provides a physical means of protecting the data while in transit.
Quantum cryptography implements the One-Time-Pad encryption scheme. Since in the One-Time-Pad, the key is used only once and is completely random, it cannot be predicted beforehand by the sender, receiver or eavesdropper. The major advantage of quantum cryptography is that the One-Time-Pad encryption scheme provides unconditional security over an insecure communication channel, ideal for the long-term protection of critical data.
Abdul Mirza, a physicist at CQT states, “A Quantum network implements QKD in a multi-node ‘key-on-demand’ environment permitting transparent integration of quantum cryptography into current optical fibre infrastructure. This combines the power of fibre-optic technology with ultra-high quantum security, providing an unsurpassed communication solution”.
The CQT was established in 2005 under the leadership of Professor Francesco Petruccione. The Centre was recently identified as the National Quantum Information Science Research Niche Area by the National Research Foundation within the Institutional Research Development Programme. Quantum Information Processing and Communications (QIPC) has also been identified as an emerging technology in the National Photonics Initiative (PISA). The Centre investigates both theoretical and experimental aspects of QIPC. CQT’s primary research within QIPC is the development of a QKD device, the realisation of quantum networks and theoretical studies into open quantum systems.
In line with the SmartCity initiative, the fibre-optic network infrastructure of the eThekwini Municipality is now complete. This will make Durban the only city in Africa with the ability to share its broadband access to vital services, businesses, schools, hospitals and tertiary institutions. With Durban being the SmartCity of Africa, the next generation of networking solutions have prompted it to leap into the Quantum regime. The QuantumCity project allows the vital services of the City to communicate securely linking municipal buildings in Pinetown and Westville. Such a test-bed network will pave the way for the roll out of further quantum security solutions to create the anunsurpassed communication solution. The network will be of interest to government agencies, finance houses and large corporate clients in securing their confidential data.
CQT intends to investigate passive and active routing techniques in the QuantumCity project for implementation into quantum networks.
The Quantum Network
The QuantumCity will consist of a 4-node MAN star network architecture. It will connects municipal buildings in Pinetown and Westville. The links will vary between 1.5 to 30km.
Pinetown Civic Centre – Pinetown Clinic Link
The graphs below display the data for the first 6 weeks of operation of our first QKD link in the QuanumCity project.
Raw Key Rate
Secure Key Rate
Quantum Bit Error Rate
Pinetown Civic Centre – Pinetown Architecture
Pinetown Civic Centre – Westville Civic Centre
MINISTER NALEDI PANDOR LAUNCHES DURBAN QUANTUM STADIUM PROJECT
The University of KwaZulu-Natal Launched the Durban QuantumStadium Project on Friday, 21st May at 17h00 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The project was launched by Minister of Science and Technology Ms Naledi Pandor.
The eThekwini Municipality and the Centrefor Quantum Technology (CQT), a research group of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), have partnered to provide an ultra high-level security system between one of the most crucial links of Durban’s ICT FIFA initiatives. The quantumStadium project uses quantum mechanical methods to distribute ultra secure encryption keys. It is the first public global event to use a quantum based encryption solution.
Building on the quantumCity initiative, the eThekwini Municipality and the Centre for Quantum Technology, a research group of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), has moved to secure the network linking the Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Joint Operation Centre in the city of Durban during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The project uses the award-winning Cerberis hybrid quantum encryption solution developed jointly by Australia’s Senetas Corporation and Geneva-based idQuantique. The layer 2 encryption process uses an AES encryption scheme, but features a quantum-based key distribution system to provide ultra high data security, including telephone, internet, video, data and email traffic travelling across the fibre optic link at up to 1 Gigabit per second.
The quantumStadium project is the first public global event to use a quantum based encryption solution. This network carries voice, email and data traffic between the two buildings. It was installed in April 2010 and will at least run until the end of the FIFA World Cup.
Professor Francesco Petruccione, Head of the CQT, states, “South Africa has the potential to lead Africa through advancements in Science and Technology. Global milestones, such as the quantumStadium project, entrench us as world-class players in research and development”.
The quantumStadium project extends the quantumCity initiative aimed at providing quantum based communication security within the eThekwini’s optical fibre optic network. Since 2008, the City of Durban has been positioned to become the Smart City of Africa. This vision includes the development of an optical fibre communication backbone to provide citizens with e-services such as online learning, health advice, internet business solutions, public sector productivity tools and surveillance. These facilities increases the dependence on online communication and therefore the quantumCity was proposed to enhance this experience with cutting edge communication security solutions.
City Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe, believes that quantum information and communication technology will not only boost the transformation of the Municipality into a high-tech information-driven organization, but also turn Durban into an incubator for future technologies.
According to Mr Abdul Mirza, a physicist at the Centre for Quantum Technology, using quantum cryptography would ensure that Durban has the most technologically advanced method of communication security. “Quantum cryptography shifts the security basis away from algorithmic procedures to a physical process bound by the laws of physical science. Conventional cryptography uses algorithms to encrypt data. This however must intrinsically be a reversible process and therefore advancements in mathematics and computing power always remain a threat to these implementations. Quantum cryptography encodes the secure key within the physical properties of quantum particles, therefore any unauthorized individual would have to defy the laws of physics to extract the key unnoticed,” said Mr Mirza.
The advancements in quantum computing and communication undertaken by scientists at the Centre for Quantum Technology had impressed the National Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor. Responding to these achievements, Mrs Pandor said: “I’m excited by the quality and innovative research that has developed at UKZN. It’s encouraging to note that government’s call to increase innovative research in science and technology at universities is being acted on.”
The City’s vision is to extend this solutionto the private sector, in turn transforming Durban from Africa’s Smart City to the world’s first quantum city.
For further information regarding the project contact:
Professor Francesco Petruccione
Centre for Quantum Technology (A Research Group of UKZN)
Tel: +27 31 260 2770
Project Manager (QuantumCity Project)
Centre for Quantum Technology (A Research Group of UKZN)
Tel: +27 31 260 7991