Smart Cities Buggy and Brittle Places Design Observer

26 мая 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
car Smart insect

Smart Cities

What if the cities of the future are chock of bugs?

Robert De Niro as smart-city hacker Harry in Brazil (1985).

Calafia in Palo Alto is one of the smartest in the world. With Google’s executive chef Charlie at the helm, the food here just for sustenance. This is eating is also a path to Each dish is carefully with ingredients that not keep you slim, but make you and more energized too. A venture capitalists pick at dandelion salads. A sleepy at night, by day Palo Alto the beating heart of Silicon the monied epicenter of the greatest of scientific and engineering talent in the of human civilization. To the west, the street, lies Stanford The Googleplex sprawls a few miles to the In the surrounding region, some engineers live and work. A tycoon or two wouldn’t be out of place Steve Jobs was a regular.

myself to the men’s room, I discover that Calafia has a major technology problem. the pedigree of its clientele, the smart doesn’t work. As I stare at the stainless steel throne, a red peering out from the small plastic box that contains the “brains” blinks at me fruitlessly. above, a sign directs an path. “If sensor not work,” it reads, “use flush button.” And so I bail sidestepping fifty years of in computer science and industrial in the blink of an eye.

Back at my I try to reverse-engineer the model of human-waste encoded in the toilet’s CPU. I a lab somewhere in Japan. Technicians in lab coats wield stopwatches as methodically clock an army of volunteers seated upon row row of smart johns. The complexity of the becomes clear. Is it supposed to as soon as you stand up? Or when you around? Or pause for a fixed of time? But how long? Can it tell if you another flush? It’s not as challenging an engineering task as a man on the moon, or calculating driving to the airport. Somehow, though, stuff works every

My bewilderment quickly yields to a sense of dread. How is it that in the heart of Silicon Valley completely acceptable for smart to be buggy, erratic, or totally Someone probably just cancer in the biotechnology lab across the and is here celebrating over Yet that same genius press the manual flush just as I did, and never twice about how consistently new world of smart technology is us down. We are weaving these into our homes, our communities. our very bodies but even have become disturbingly about their shortcomings. The of us rarely question them at

I know I should stop and learn to love the smart But what if it’s a harbinger of problems? What if the seeds of cities’ own destruction are already into their DNA? argued that smart are a solution to the challenges of 21st-century that despite potential the benefits outweigh the risks, if we are aggressive about confronting the consequences of our choices. But in reality only scratched the surface.

if the smart cities of the future are and brittle? What are we getting into?

Broad Institute, Massachusetts. [Photo by Len Rubenstein]

A few later, I found myself around the MIT campus in Cambridge, with nary a thought uncooperative toilets in mind. west from Kenmore a few minutes later I came the new home of the Broad Institute. a of glass and steel that a billion-dollar center for research in medicine. The street wall was out with an enormous array of showing in real time the sequences of DNA base pairs mapped by the machinery upstairs.

And out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. The Blue of Death. as the alert displayed by Windows following an operating-system is colloquially known. Forlorn, I through the glass at the lone Instead of the stream of genetic a meaningless string of hexadecimals back, indicating precisely deep in the core of some a lone miscomputation had occurred. where I had hoped to find fusion of human and machine I’d found yet another

The term “bug ,” from the old Welsh bwg (pronounced has long been used as for insects. But appropriation of the term to technical failings dates to the of the telecommunications age. The first invented in the 1840s used two one to send and one to receive. In the 1870s, telegraphs were developed, messages to be sent simultaneously in directions over a single But sometimes stray signals come down the line, were said to be “bugs” or [1] Thomas Edison himself the expression in an 1878 letter to Tivadar, the Hungarian inventor who up with the idea of a telephone that allowed individual to be connected into a network for the time. [2] According to an early of Edison’s own quadruplex, an improved that could send two in each direction, by 1890 the had become common industry [3]

The first documented computer however, was an actual insect. In 1947, Navy researchers with professors at Harvard were running the Mark II Relay Calculator through its when it suddenly began to Tearing open the primitive computer, they found a trapped between one of its relays. On a maintained by Navy historians, you can see a photograph of the page from the lab where someone carefully the moth down, methodically an annotation: “First actual of bug being found.” [4] As legend has it, person was Grace Hopper, a who would go on to become an important in computer science. (Hopper’s however, disputes this was the time “bug” was used to a malfunction in the early development of arguing “it was clear the was already in use.”) [5]

First bug, a dead moth, [Courtesy of U.S. Navy]

that day, bugs become endemic in our digital the result of the enormous complexity and pace of modern engineering. But how we experience bugs in the smart They could be as isolated as faulty toilet or a crashed screen. In 2007 a Washington rail car caught fire a power surge went by buggy software designed to it. [6] Temporarily downgrading back to the more reliable code just 20 minutes per car while methodically began testing and

But some bugs in city-scale will ripple across with potentially catastrophic A year before the DC Metro a bug in the control software of San Francisco’s system forced a system-wide not just once, but three over a 72-hour period. disconcerting is the fact that attempts to fix the faulty code made things worse. As an investigation later found, staff began immediately to configure a backup system would enable a faster from any future software But two days after the first “work on that backup inadvertently contributed to the failure of a of hardware that, in turn, the longest delay.” [7] Thankfully, no one was by these subway shutdowns, but economic impact was likely the economic toll of the two-and-a-half-day of New York’s subways during a strike was estimated at $1 billion. [8]

The of automation in transit systems are a to the kinds of problems we’re to see as we buy into smart cities. As as today’s failures are, they are actually a benchmark for Current smart systems are designed and extensively tested. have multiple layers of With the urgency of urban increasing and the resources and will to with them in doubt, in the many smart technologies be thrown together under schedules and even tighter They will struggle to this gold standard of with only a few short-lived, glitches each year.

Screen of Death” Windows screen, New York City. by thirdrail ]

The sheer size of smart systems comes its own set of problems. Cities and their are already the most complex humankind has ever created. them with equally information processing can only the opportunities for bugs and unanticipated As Kenneth Duda, a high-performance expert told the New York . “the great enemy is measured in lines of code, or [9] Ellen Ullman, a writer and software developer, argues, is impossible to fully test any system. To think otherwise is to what constitutes such a It is not a single body of code entirely by one company. Rather, it is a of ‘modules’ plugged into one The resulting system is a tangle of boxes wired together communicate through dimly ‘interfaces.’ A programmer on one side of an can only hope that the on the other side has gotten it [10]

In his landmark 1984 of technological disasters, Normal . sociologist Charles Perrow that in highly complex with many tightly elements, accidents are inevitable. worse is that traditional to reducing risk, such as and alerts (or the installation of the backup system in the BART incident), may introduce more complexity systems and thereby increase The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, for was caused by an irreversible chain of triggered during tests of a new safety system. Perrow’s “Most high-risk systems some special characteristics, their toxic or explosive or dangers, that make in them inevitable, even [11]

Malfunctioning crosswalk New York City. [Photo by Hollenback ]

Normal accidents be ever-present in smart cities. as the rapid pace of urbanization has shoddy construction practices, notably in China’s notorious buildings ,” hastily put smart cities will technological flaws created by and builders’ shortcuts. These hacks threaten to make design shortcuts like the Y2K bug small in comparison. Stemming a trick commonly used to memory in the early days of by recording dates using the last two digits of the year, Y2K was the bug in history, prompting a worldwide to rewrite millions of lines of in the late 1990s. Over the there were plenty of to undo Y2K, but thousands of chose to postpone the fix, ended up costing over billion worldwide when finally got around to it. [12] in the smart city will be insidious, living inside of critical, interconnected systems. there may be no way to anticipate the interdependencies. Who have foreseen the massive jam caused on U.S. Interstate 80 a bug in the system used to manage pools by Placer County, erroneously summoned twelve people to report for duty on the day in 2012? [13]

The pervasiveness of in smart cities is disconcerting. We yet have a clear grasp of the biggest risks lie, and how they will cause to fail, or what the chain-reaction will be. Who is responsible when a city crashes? And how will help debug the city? we routinely send anonymous bug to software companies when our crashes. Is this a model portable to the world of embedded and computing?

Software glitch in ticket terminal, San Francisco. by zakattak ]

Counterintuitively, buggy cities might strengthen and pressure for democracy. Wade who studied the way citizens respond to technological disasters like and nuclear accidents, concluded “control breakdowns in large systems have educated and many lay citizens, enabling to challenge both existing plans and the expertise and authority of the who carry them out.” public reaction to disasters of our own he argues, has spurred the development of new cultural undercurrent of ‘technological characterized by greater knowledge of, and toward, the complex systems permeate modern societies.” If the first generation of smart does truly prove flawed, from their may grow the seeds of more democratic designs.

In a smart filled with bugs, our new heroes be the adventurous few who can dive the ductwork and flush them Leaving the Broad Institute’s Screen of Death behind, I back in the rain to my hotel, of Brazil . the 1985 film by Python troupe member Gilliam, which foretold an smart city gone Arriving at my room, I opened my and started up a Netflix stream of the As the scene opens. the protagonist, Sam played by Jonathan Pryce, sweating by an open refrigerator. the phone rings, and Harry played by Robert De Niro, “Are you from Central asks Lowry, referring to the bureaucracy that runs the infrastructure. “They’re a little these days,” Tuttle “Luckily I intercepted your Tuttle is a guerrilla repairman, a hacker valiantly trying to residents’ basic utilities up and “This whole system of could be on fire, and I couldn’t turn on a kitchen tap without out a twenty-seven-B-stroke-six.”

Let’s hope that’s a story. Some days, it feel so far-fetched.

Jonathan and Robert De Niro in Brazil .

myths rely on faith as as fact. The Internet’s is no different. netizens everywhere believe the Internet began as a military to design a communications network could survive a nuclear

The fable begins in the early with the publication of “On Communications” by Paul Baran, a at the RAND think tank. At the Baran had been tasked developing a scheme for an indestructible network for the U.S. Air Force. War planners feared that the structure of the telephone system was to a preemptive Soviet first Without a working communications the United States would not be to coordinate a counterattack, and the strategic of “mutually assured destruction” the superpowers would be upset. Baran proposed, according to University science historian Galison, “was a plan to completely, critical nodes the telephone system.” [15] In Distributed Communications” and a series of that followed, he demonstrated how a less centralized latticework of hubs, interconnected by redundant could sustain heavy without becoming split isolated sections. [16] The was picked up by the Pentagon’s Advanced Projects Agency (ARPA), a set up to fast-track RD after the embarrassment of the space program’s Sputnik in 1957. ARPANET. the Internet’s was rolled out in the early 1970s.

So has it.

The real story is more There were indeed concerns about the survivability of communications networks. But RAND was one of several research groups were broadly rethinking networks at the time parallel on distributed communications were led by Lawrence Roberts at MIT and Donald and Roger Scantlebury at the United National Physical Laboratory. of the three efforts remained of each other until a conference organized by the Association for Machinery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Roberts met Scantlebury, who by then had of Baran’s earlier work. And ARPANET wasn’t a military network for America’s nuclear or any arsenal for that matter. It even classified. It was a research As Robert Taylor, who oversaw the project for the Pentagon, explained in in a widely forwarded e-mail, creation of the ARPA net was not motivated by of war. The ARPA net was created to folks with common to connect to one another through computing even when separated by geography.” [18]

map, 1977. [Adapted F. Heart, et al. ARPANET Completion . 1978 ]

We also like to that the Internet is still distributed as Baran envisioned, in fact it’s perhaps the centralized communications network built. In the beginning, ARPANET did hew closely to that distributed A 1977 map of the growing network at least four redundant routes, run over phone leased from ATT, up the major computing clusters in Washington, Silicon Valley, and Los Metropolitan loops created within those regions as [19] If the link to your went down, you could reach them by sending around in the other direction. approach is still commonly today.

By 1987, the Pentagon was to pull the plug on what it had considered an experiment. But the research was hooked, so plans were to hand over control to the Science Foundation, which the civilian portion of the ARPANET its own research network, NSFNET. a year earlier. In July NSFNET turned on a new national network that dropped the and distributed grid of ARPANET in of a more efficient and economical arrangement. [20] Much the air-transportation network today, of universities pooled their to deploy their own regional networks (often with NSF funding), which linked up the backbone at several hubs strategically around the country.

seven years later, in 1995, the National Science handed over management of the to the private sector. The move lead to even greater by designating just four interconnection points through bits would flow the country. Located outside San Washington, Philadelphia, and Chicago, hubs were the center not of America’s Internet, but the world’s. At the an e-mail from Europe to would almost certainly through Virginia and California. then, things have even more. One of those in Ashburn, Virginia, is home to is arguably the world’s largest of data centers. some buildings boasting the collective of 22 Walmart Supercenters. [21] Internet infrastructure has coalesced preexisting hubs of commerce. you could knock out a handful of in Manhattan where the world’s big providers connect to each 60 Hudson Street, 111 Eighth 25 Broadway and cut off a good chunk of Internet capacity. (Fiber the first technology to link 25 to Europe. The elegant 1921 served as headquarters and main office for the great ocean-crossing of the Cunard Line until the

Wikimedia servers at Equinix center in Ashburn, Virginia. Wikimedia ]

Despite the existence of chokepoints, the Internet’s nuke-proof creation myth has only strengthened by the fact that the few it has actually been bombed, it has surprisingly resilient. During the 1999 aerial bombardment of by NATO, which explicitly telecommunications facilities along the power grid, many of the Internet Protocol networks able to stay connected to the world. [22] And the Internet 9/11 largely unscathed. 3 million telephone lines knocked out in lower Manhattan a grid the size of Switzerland’s damage to a single phone-company near the World Trade Broadcast radio and TV stations crippled by the destruction of the north whose rooftop bristled antennas of every size, and purpose. Panic-dialing across the brought the phone system to a [23] But the Internet hardly

But while the Internet manages to its messy integrity, the infrastructure of cities is far more brittle. As we ever more fragile and single points of failure on top of the still-resilient core, major in service are likely to be common. And an increasing array of critical social, and government services over these channels, the are compounded.

The greatest cause for concern is our dependence on untethered networks, puts us at the mercy of a fragile wireless hop between our devices and the Cellular networks have of the resilience of the Internet. They are the ladies of the network world the heat is on, they’re the first to go and make the biggest fuss as do so.

Cellular networks fail in all of ugly ways during damage to towers (15 were around the World Trade on 9/11 alone), destruction of the fiber-optic line that the tower into the grid more), and power loss towers have just hours of battery backup). In flooding caused by Hurricane cut backhaul to over 2000 sites in eight counties in and New York City and its upstate (not including New Jersey and and power to nearly 1500 [24] Hurricane Katrina over a thousand cell in Louisiana and Mississippi in August severely hindering relief because the public phone was the only common radio among many responding agencies. In the areas of Japan of Tokyo annihilated by the 2011 the widespread destruction of mobile-phone literally rolled the clock on history, forcing people to to radios, newspapers, and even messengers to communicate. “When went down, there was and panic,” the head of emergency in the city of Miyako told the New Times . [25]

Disaster crews in Sukuiso, Japan, 2011 earthquake. [Photo by Navy]

The biggest threat to networks in cities, however, is density. Because wireless try to maximize the profit-making potential of expensive spectrum licenses, typically only build out infrastructure to connect a fraction of customers in a given place at the time. “Oversubscribing,” as this calibrated scheme is known in the works fine under conditions, when even the users rarely chat for than a few hours a day. But a disaster, when everyone to panic, call volumes and the capacity is quickly exhausted. On the of September 11, for instance, fewer 1 in 20 mobile calls were in New York City. [26] A later, little has changed. a scary but not very destructive on the U.S. East Coast in the of 2011, cell networks again overwhelmed. Yet media barely noted it. Cellular during crises have so commonplace in modern urban that we no longer question why happen or how the problem can be fixed.

in public cloud-computing infrastructure the vulnerabilities of dependence on network Amazon Web Services. the 800-pound of public clouds that thousands of popular websites, a major disruption in April lasting three days. to a detailed report on the incident to the company’s website, the outage to have been a normal to use Perrow’s term. A botched change in the data center’s network, which had been to upgrade its capacity, shunted the facility’s traffic onto a backup network. Under the stress, “a previously bug” reared its head, operators from restoring the without risk of data [27] Later, in July a massive electrical storm cut to the company’s Ashburn data shutting down two of the most Internet services Netflix and [28] “Amazon Cloud Hit By Cloud,” quipped a PC World [29]

The cloud is far less than most of us realize, and its may be starting to take a real toll. Google, which itself on high-quality data-center suffered a half-dozen outages in lasting up to 30 hours. [30] promises its cloud customers percent annual uptime, Google pledges 99.9 for its premium apps service. sounds impressive until you that even after of increasing outages, even in the blackout-prone region (the the much-maligned American electric industry averages 99.96 uptime. [31] Yet even tiny gap between reality and carries a huge cost. to Massoud Amin of the University of power outages and power disturbances cost the U.S. between $80 billion and $188 a year. [32] A back-of-the-envelope published by International Working on Cloud Computing Resiliency the economic cost of cloud between 2007 and mid-2012 at $70 million (not including the 2012 Amazon outage). But as more and more of the vital of smart cities migrate to a of big, vulnerable data this number is sure to in coming years.

Cloud-computing could turn smart into zombies. Biometric for instance, which senses our physical characteristics to identify will increasingly determine our and privileges as we move through the granting physical access to and rooms, personalizing environments, and digital services and content. But authentication is a complex task will demand access to data and computation. The keyless system at your office send a scan of your to a remote data center to against your personnel before admitting you. authentication, a technique that always-on biometrics your gestures, or typing style constantly verify your potentially eliminating the need for [34] Such systems rely heavily on cloud and will break down it does. It’s one thing for e-mail to go down for a few hours, but another thing when in your neighborhood gets out of their homes.

Global System satellite network. of NOAA]

Another “cloud” floating in the sky above us, the Global System satellite network, is the greatest single point of for smart cities. Without it, of the things on the Internet will to ascertain where they America’s rivals have worried about their on the network of 24 satellites owned by the Defense Department. But now even closest allies worry GPS might be cut off not by military fiat but by With a much-needed modernization for the decades-old system way behind in 2009 the Government Accountability lambasted the Air Force for delays and overruns that threatened to service. [35] And the stakes of a GPS are rising fast, as navigational permeates the industrial and consumer In 2011 the United Kingdom’s Academy of Engineering concluded “a surprising number of systems already have GPS as a dependency, so a failure of the GPS signal cause the simultaneous failure of services that are probably to be independent of each other.” For instance, GPS is extensively used for suspected criminals and land Disruptions in GPS service would rapidly reintroducing older and technologies for these tasks. alternatives such as Russia’s already exist, and the European Galileo and China’s Compass will provide more in the future, the GPS seems likely to its own nasty collection of normal “No one has a complete picture,” Martyn Thomas, the lead on the UK study, “of the many in which we have become on weak signals 12,000 above us.” [37]

Centralization of smart-city infrastructure is but decentralization doesn’t always resilience. Uncoordinated management can its own brittle structures, such as the “bufferbloat ” problem. which serves as a kind of gearbox to sync fast-flowing and parts of the Internet, is a key tool to out surges of data and reducing But in 2010 Jim Gettys, a veteran engineer, noticed that of network devices had taken of rapidly falling memory to beef up buffers far beyond the Internet’s original congestion-management was designed for. “Manufacturers reflexively acted to prevent any and all loss and, by doing so, inadvertently defeated a critical TCP mechanism,” concluded the editors of ACM . a leading computer networking referring to the Internet’s traffic the Transmission Control Protocol. The of bufferbloat was increasing congestion and slowdowns. [38] What’s frightening about bufferbloat is it was hiding in plain view. concluded: “the issues create delay are not new, but collective impact has not been understood. buffering problems been accumulating for more a decade.” [39]

What a list of accidental ways cities might be brittle by or oversight! But what if someone tried to bring one to its knees? The of cyber-sabotage on civil infrastructure is just beginning to capture attention. Stuxnet. the virus attacked Iran’s nuclear plant at Natanz in 2010, was the beginning. Widely believed to the of a joint Israeli-American operation, was a clever piece of malicious or malware, that infected involved with monitoring and industrial machinery and infrastructure, by the acronym SCADA (supervisory and data acquisition). At Natanz 6000 centrifuges were used to enrich uranium to purity. Security experts Stuxnet, carried in on a USB thumb infected and took over the systems controlling the plant’s Working stealthily to knock the off balance even as it reported to that all was normal, Stuxnet is to have put over a thousand out of commission, significantly slowing the process, and the Iranian weapons [40]

The wide spread of was shocking. Unlike the laser-guided, smart bombs that have been used in a strike on the Natanz plant, attacked with all the precision of bombing. By the time Ralph a German computer-security expert who in SCADA systems, finally the purpose of the unknown virus, it had found on similar machinery not in Iran but as far away as Pakistan, Indonesia, and even the United By August 2010, over Stuxnet infections were in 115 countries. [41]

Siemens control panel for a SCADA like those targeted by the virus.

Stuxnet was the first attack on SCADA systems, but it is not to be the last. A year later, in an with CNET, Langer at the media’s focus on attributing the to a specific nation. “Could also be a threat against installations, U.S. critical he asked. “Unfortunately, the answer is yes it can be copied easily. That’s important than the question of who did He warned of Stuxnet copycat and criticized governments and companies for widespread complacence. “Most think this was to attack a enrichment plant and if I don’t that I’m not at risk,” he “This is completely wrong. The is executed on Siemens controllers and are general-purpose products. So you will the same products in a power even in elevators.” [42]

argue that the threat of is overblown. Stuxnet’s payload was targeted. It was programmed to only the Natanz centrifuges, and do so in a very way. Most importantly, it a highly valuable arsenal of attacks, undocumented vulnerabilities can only be exploited once, which a simple update be issued by the software’s supplier. In its on the virus, security software Symantec wrote, “Incredibly, exploits four zero-day which is unprecedented.” [43]

unique attributes aside, embedded systems aren’t in bunkers, and they are increasingly to much simpler attacks on human operators. Little than a year after was uncovered, a lone hacker only as “pr0f” attacked the utility of South Houston, a town of 17,000 people outside Texas’s most city. Enraged by the U.S. downplaying of a similar incident in Springfield, Illinois, pr0f in on the utility’s Siemens SIMATIC a web-based dashboard for remote to the waterworks’ SCADA systems. the Springfield attack turned out to be a alarm federal officials reported finding “no of a cyber intrusion” pr0f was on the move, and the hacker didn’t need to write any code. It turned out that the plant’s had chosen a shockingly weak password. While pr0f’s on South Houston could easily been prevented, is widely used and full of fundamental vulnerabilities that can exploit. That summer Beresford, a security researcher at coincidentally) Houston-based network outfit NSS Labs, had demonstrated flaws in SIMATIC and ways to them. Siemens managed to the collateral damage of Stuxnet, but the in SIMATIC are indicative of far more risks it must address.

troubling development is the growing of “forever day” vulnerabilities discovered in older control Unlike zero-day exploits, for vendors and security firms can deploy countermeasures and patches, exploits target holes in embedded systems that no longer support and therefore never be patched. The problem industrial-control equipment sold in the by both Siemens and GE, as well as a of smaller firms. [45] It has increased interest from the Emergency Response Team. the agency that coordinates cyber-security efforts.

One obvious for securing smart-city infrastructure is to connecting it to the Internet. But “air-gapping,” as technique is known, is only a measure at best. Stuxnet, like Agent.btz, the virus infected the Defense Department’s computer network in 2008, likely both walked secure facilities on USB sticks. Insecure wireless networks are even emanating from our own bodies. Researchers at the security McAfee have successfully insulin pumps, ordering the devices to release a lethal of insulin, and a group of computer at the University of Washington and University of have disabled heart-defibrillator using wireless signals.

Screenshot posted by the hacker who a South Houston, Texas, utility control system in

These vulnerabilities are calling the open design of the Internet question. No one in those early of ARPANET ever imagined the to which we would embed networks in the support systems of our the carelessness with which we do so, and the threat that malevolent would present. Assuring the building blocks of smart are reliable will require new and probably new regulation. Colin IBM’s smarter-cities master argues that in the future, you want to connect a computer to a piece of critical national it’s going to have to be in various ways.” [48] also have take measures to harden smart against direct assault. Korea has already seen on its civil infrastructure by North cyber-warriors. One strike is believed to shut down air traffic in the country for over an hour.

Nothing short of a crisis force us to confront the risk of cities’ brittle infrastructure. The mayor who has to deal with the of a city-scale smart system be in new territory, but who will take the The city? The military? Homeland The technology firms that it? Consider the accountability challenge poses we’d likely have known about it it not for its own bug. Carried out of Natanz by unsuspecting Iranian engineer, the failed to detect that it had into the open, and instead of its own reproductive mechanisms, like a virus it proliferated across the [50]

A New Civics

If the history of building in the last century us anything, it is that the unintended of new technologies often dwarf intended design. Motorization to save city dwellers the piles of horse manure clogged 19th-century streets and us from a shroud of factory back to nature. Instead, it the countryside with sprawl and us sedentary and obese. If we don’t critically now about the technology we put in for the next century of cities, we can look forward to all the unpleasant they hold in store for us.

cities are almost guaranteed to be full of bugs, from toilets and faucets that operate to public screens Microsoft’s ominous Blue of Death. But even when code is clean, the innards of cities will be so complex so-called normal accidents be inevitable. The only questions be when smart cities and how much damage they when they crash. atop the fragile power already prone to overload crises and open to sabotage, the networks that patch the city together are as brittle an as we’ve ever had.

But only if we continue doing as usual. We can stack the deck and the odds, but we need to completely our approach to the opportunities and challenges of smart cities. We need to the confidence of tech-industry giants, and the local innovation that’s at the grassroots into a truly movement. We need to push our leaders to think more long-term survival and less short-term gain, more cooperation than competition. importantly, we need to take the back from the engineers, and let and communities decide where we steer.

Smartcitizens exhibition at Madrid, 2013. [Photo by ]

People often ask me, “What is a city?” It’s a hard to answer. “Smart” is a problematic that has come to mean a things. Soon, it may take its alongside the handful of international vaguely evocative terms “sustainability” and “globalization” that no one to translate because there’s no about what they mean. When people about smart cities, often cast a wide net pulls in every new public-service from bike sharing to parks. The broad view is since cities must be holistically. Simply installing new technology, no matter how elegant or cannot solve a city’s in isolation. But there really is going on here information is clearly going to be a big part of the It deserves treatment on its own. I a more focused view and smart cities as places information technology is combined infrastructure, architecture, everyday and even our bodies to address economic, and environmental problems.

I the more important and interesting is, “what do you want a smart to be?” We need to focus on how we the technology we employ in future There are many different of what the opportunity is. Ask an IBM engineer and he tell you about the potential for and optimization. Ask an app developer and she will a vision of novel social and experiences in public places. Ask a and it’s all about participation and In truth, smart cities strive for all of these things.

are trade-offs between these goals for smart cities. The challenge is weaving together that integrate these and mitigate conflicts. Smart need to be efficient but also opportunities for spontaneity, serendipity, and If we program all of the randomness out, have turned them rich, living organisms dull mechanical automatons. need to be secure, but not at the risk of surveillance chambers. They to be open and participatory, but provide support structure for those who the resources to self-organize. More anything else, they to be inclusive. In her most influential The Death and Life of Great Cities . the acclaimed urbanist Jacobs argued that have the capability of providing for everybody, only because, and when, they are created by [51] Yet over fifty later, as we set out to create the smart of the 21st century, we seem to again forgotten this truth.

car Smart insect

Centre for Smart University of Cambridge. [Photo by at Cambridge ]

But there is hope a new civic order will in smart cities, and pull last one of us into the effort to them better places. used to be full of strangers and encounters. Today we can mine the graph in an instant by simply a photo. Algorithms churn in the telling the little things in our where we should eat and whom we date. It’s a jarring But even as old norms fade the past, we’re learning new to thrive on mass connectedness. A economy has mushroomed overnight, as swap everything from bedrooms to cars, in a synergistic of new technology and more earth-friendly Online social networks are back into the thriving habitats where they born in countless promising

For the last 15 years, I’ve the struggle over how to build cities evolve from the I’ve studied and critiqued efforts, designed parts of myself, and cheered others I’ve written forecasts for big as they sized up the market, with start-ups and civic toiling away at the grass and advised politicians and policy trying to push reluctant into a new era. I understand and much of their agendas.

But also seen my share of shortfalls, and misguided assumptions in the and initiatives that have carried forth under the of smart cities. And so I’m to play the roles of myth whistle-blower, and skeptic in one. The industry is asking us to rebuild the around its vision of efficient, convenient living. It is spending of millions of dollars to convince us to pay for it. But seen this movie As essayist Walter Lippmann of the 1939 World’s Fair, Motors has spent a small to convince the American public if it wishes to enjoy the full of private enterprise in motor it will have to rebuild its and its highways by public enterprise.” Today the computer guys are the same song.

I believe is a better way to build smart than to simply call in the We need to lift up the civic who would show us a different We need to empower ourselves to future cities organically, the bottom up, and do it in time to save from climate change. If seems an insurmountable goal, forget that at the end of the day the smartest in the world is the one you live in. If that’s not fighting for, I don’t what is.

Editors’ Note

Cities is adapted from Cities: Big Data, Civic and the Quest for a New Utopia . copyright M. Townsend, published this by W.W. Norton Company. It with the permission of the author and

1. J. Casale, “The Origin of the ‘Bug,’ ” The OTB (Antique Association), February 2004.

2. P. Hughes, American Genesis: A History of the American Genius for (New York: Penguin 1989), 75.

3. William Maver Jr. and M. Davis, The Quadruplex (New W. J. Johnston, 1890), 84.

4. Naval and Heritage Command archives, 96566-KN.

5. Kathleen Broome Grace Hopper: Admiral of the Sea (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute 2004), 54.

8. “The Economic of Interrupted Service ,” U.S. Transportation Construction Profile (Washington, DC: American Transportation Builders Association,

11. Charles Perrow, Normal Living with High Risk Technologies (Princeton, NJ: University Press, 1999), 4.

12. L. Mitchell, “Y2K: The good, the bad and the ,” Computerworld . December 28,

13. David Green, “Computer Summons Too Many Jurors National Public Radio . May 3,

14. Wade Roush, “Catastrophe and How Technological Disasters Enhance ,” PhD dissertation, Program in Technology and Society, Massachusetts of Technology, 1994.

15. Peter “War Against the Center,” Room . no. 4 (2001): 26.

16. Paul On Distributed Communications (RAND: Monica, CA, 1964), document no.

18. Bob Taylor, October 6, 2004, to Dave Farber reposted to listserv.

19. 1977 geographical map of originally published in F. Heart, A. J. McQuillian, and D. Walden, ARPANET Report (Bolt, Beranek and Burlington, MA), January 4,

20. Suzanne Harris and Amy Hansen, Internet: Changing the Way We Communicate America’s Investment in the Future, Science Foundation, n.d.

22. Branigan and Bill Cheswick, effects of war on the Yugoslavian Network 1999.

23. William J. Mitchell and M. Townsend, “Cyborg Agonistes,” in The City: How Modern Cities From Disaster . edited by J. Vale and Thomas J. Campanella York: Oxford University 2005), 32021.

24. New York Public Service Commission, documents provided to the author.

26. Research Council, Computer and Telecommunications Board, The Internet Crisis Conditions: Learning September 11 (Washington, DC: National Press, 2003).

31. Author’s based on statistics reported in Amin, “U.S. Electrical Gets Less Reliable IEEE Spectrum . January

32. Massoud Amin, “The Tide of Power Outages and the for a Stronger and Smarter Grid Security Technology . Technological Institute, University of Minnesota, 8, 2010.

33. Maurice Gagnaire et al. statistics of current cloud ,” International Working on Cloud Computing Resiliency, 2012.

34. Kathleen Hickey, Dump Passwords for Always-on ,” Government Computer . March 21, 2012.

36. Global Space Systems: Reliance and (London: Royal Academy of 2011), 3.

39. Jim Gettys and Kathleen “Bufferbloat: Dark Buffers in the ” ACMQueue . November 29,

43. Symantec Corporation, “W32.Stuxnet Security Responses .

47. Mark “Warning Over Medical Attacks ,” BBC News, 10, 2012; Daniel Halperin et al. and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators: Radio Attacks and Zero-Power proceedings of the 2008 IEEE on Security and Privacy .

52. Walter New York Herald Tribune . 6, 1939, quoted in Robert W. World of Fairs: The Century-of-Progress (Chicago: University of Chicago 1993), 115.

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