As computing and the internet begins to play a larger and larger role in our everyday lives, it also opens our cities up to all sorts of vulnerabilities. In Ubisoft’s recent hit game Watch_Dogs, the protagonist takes advantage of an interconnected future version of Chicago in order to wreak havoc using smartphone hacking.
Unfortunately, this kind of situation is less fantastical than we might think. In an effort to prove this, Ubisoft has created a series of maps as part of a visualisation called “WeAreData”. These maps show the European capitals of London, Paris and Berlin against a dark background, while highlighting the myriad ways in which the cities can be tracked in real time using technology.
Drawing from publicly available data, these maps show the locations of CCTV cameras, traffic lights, public amenities, smartphones, and even trains in simulated real time. In addition, the data is overlaid with interesting statistics on area you are viewing, with data like unemployment and crime rates, as well as average salaries. Furthermore this sort of info is complemented with real time geolocated social media updates to sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, showing how people are interacting with their city.
Its the sort of data which you would expect could be easily visualised by a government micromanaging a city or a nefarious hacker planning their next hit. Smart cities are indeed real, and a much more invasive form of this kind of map, with access to nonpublic data would easily be able to track almost every single person in a city in near-real time.
As WeAreData seeks to show, smart cities are not just a scary future, but also a frightening present. We are connected like never before, but the real question is: who is watching where these connections lead?
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