This week we have been reading about networked spaces and their relationship to urban infrastructure. Stephen Graham’s book Disrupted Cities, discusses the ways in which society as we know it, is dependant on the tight coupling of multiple urban infrastructure networks such as telecommunications lines, energy and water systems etc. Although his work can be read through a technologically determinist lens, it is likely that society would not function to its current social, economic and political capacity without these networks.
Graham also discusses the limitations of life within a networked society, specifically in relation to infrastructure terrorism, or the appropriation of urban infrastructure for destruction. I myself was naive to the fact that the basic units of modern urban life could also be used to destroy it. As networks need to be partially open for optimal functioning, there is never such thing as complete securitization.
As society continues to progress, more sophisticated infrastructure networks are laid in place. The Internet of Things (IoT), what can be understood as inanimate objects embedded with computing devices for the ability to send and receive data. The largest development within the IoT is the creation of ‘Smart‘ cities. Alberta is currently home to the Canadian Smart City Alliance, in which developers are working on innovative infrastructure networks to ease travel for the Albertans.
These ‘smart’ cities are proposed to include ‘smart’ roads and bridges that will communicate with ‘smart’ vehicles and command centres in order to indicate road and traffic conditions, as well improve the flow of traffic via. volume monitoring. Projects like these may seem futuristic, but they have in fact already begun here in Canada.
Keeping in mind Graham’s discussion of infrastructure terrorism, specifically the ease in accessibility of cyber attacks, I am having trouble foreseeing smart cities as an affordance. I am not sure that I would trust my vehicle to make electronic decisions via. sensory communication knowing that almost anyone has the ability to infiltrate and alter the functioning of my ‘smart’ vehicle.
How to you view ‘smart’ cities… affordance or limitation?