Tag Archives | Infrastructure

On Fighting Against Hegemonic Urban Development

BayOfRage reveals infrastructure and redevelopment projects in Oakland (and beyond) as a means of reshaping cities for social control:

Further development will not open space for meaningful social activity and will only constrict it — In the slew of development projects coming down the pipe, residents will be free to consume, travel to and from work, or stay inside to not bother anyone.

Mistakes in architecture will never be repeated in future developments. The UC system learned the danger in building large plazas where dissident students could gather during the free speech movement at Berkeley. University of California campuses built since the sixties are subdivided into a number to smaller campuses, to better contain and neutralize student revolt. Housing projects are built to make the space transparent and easily surveillable, often by the administrators of social services. Likewise, we can be entirely sure that the city of Oakland will never allow the construction of another space like Oscar Grant Plaza, where thousands of people were able to gather, meet their needs and organize an assault against capitalism.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

U.S. Electrical Grid Too Crappy to Be Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack, Say Physicists

Interesting article from Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

U.S. Electrical GridThe US government worries that terrorists could take down the country’s electrical grid just by hitting a small node in the system. But a new study reveals the grid is too unreliable for that kind of attack.

Last year, network theorists published some papers suggesting that terrorists could take down the entire US electrical grid by attacking a small, remote power station.

But new research shows that network theory models, which great for analyzing many complex systems, don’t work for patchwork systems like the US electrical grid. Basically, the grid was set up so haphazardly that you’d have to take out a major node before you’d affect the entire thing.

Science Daily sums up: [The] electric grid is probably more secure that many people realize — because it is so unpredictable. This, of course, makes it hard to improve its reliability (in another line of research, [study co-author Paul] Hines has explored why the rate of blackouts in the United States hasn’t improved in decades), but the up-side of this fact is that it would be hard for a terrorist to bring large parts of the grid down by attacking just one small part.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Arizona Turns Off Speed Cameras Due to Privacy Complaints; Admits Design to Generate Revenue

I Can't Drive 55Finally, Sammy Hagar can drive in the State of Arizona worry-free (unless he’s wearing that yellow outfit again, he deserves to be pulled over for that).

In all seriousness, I’ve always suspected these cameras were more about making money than any “public safety” concern, and it really looks like the reason for abandonment in Arizona was civil disobedience over ticket payment by a large majority of Arizona’s speedsters. (Although apparently there is an incident of murder reported below.) Alex Spillius writes in the Telegraph:

Arizona has turned off every speed camera on its highways after complaints that they violated privacy and were designed to generate revenue rather than promote road safety.

A spokesman for Jan Brewer, the state’s Republican governor, said she “was uncomfortable with the intrusive nature of the system”, which was inherited from her Democratic predecessor. Opening in October 2008, the scheme was first in the United States to use speed cameras across a whole state. Amid objections of Big Brother-ism, numerous cameras were vandalised, while the operator of a van carrying a mobile camera was shot dead in a lay-by in April 2009.

The 76 cameras took 2.7 million photographs, but only 16 percent of drivers who received a speeding ticket paid up.

Continue Reading

’60 Minutes’ Still Says Hackers Caused Brazilian Blackout, Ignores Other Evidence

I’m one of those strange non-senior citizens who watches 60 Minutes on a regular basis (having a TiVo helps). So due to the controversy over a 2007 electrical blackout in Brazil that affected over 3 million people, I was expecting an update from 60 Minutes this week. They are sticking with their original story, still calling it “cyberwar”, and no mention that it might be due to poorly-maintained infrastructure, as WIRED and other sources say. My favorite part of the WIRED story is that the Brazilian government says their electric control systems aren’t connected to the internet.

PowerOutageBrazilHere’s the counter-story from Marcelo Soares at WIRED:

A massive 2007 electrical blackout in Brazil has been newly blamed on computer hackers, but was actually the result of a utility company’s negligent maintenance of high voltage insulators on two transmission lines. That’s according to reports from government regulators and others who investigated the incident for more than a year.

In a broadcast Sunday night, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes cited unnamed sources in making the extraordinary claim that a two-day outage in the Atlantic state of Espirito Santo was triggered by hackers targeting a utility company’s control systems. The blackout affected 3 million people. Hackers also caused another, smaller blackout north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005, the network claimed…

Continue Reading