City Infrastructure

I'm always interested in how the lessons that people learn in IT trickle down to other kinds of work and problems. This is one of the reasons that I [1] am so interested in what developers are interested in: if you want to know what's happening in the technology space, it's best to start at the top of the food chain. For this reason this article from IBM, which addresses the use of IT/Data Center management tools outside of the data center was incredibly interesting for me.

When you think about it, it makes sense. IT involves a lot of physical assets, even more virtual assets, and when projects and systems grow big enough, it can be easy to lose track of what you have, much less what state it's in at any given time. Generalized, this is a prevalent issue in many kinds of complex systems.

As an aside, I'm a little interested when software that provides asset management and monitoring features, will scale down to the personal level. That'll be interesting too. There are the beginnings of this kind of thing (e.g. iTunes, and git-annex) but only the beginnings.

I'm left with the following questions:

  • Obviously moving from managing and monitoring networked devices to managing and monitoring infrastructure objects like water filtration systems, storm water drainage, the electrical grid, snow removal, etc. presents a serious challenge for the developers of these tools, and this adaptation will likely improve the tools. I'm more interested in how cities improve in this equation. And not simply with regards to operating efficiencies. What do we learn from all this hard data on cities?
  • Will cities actually be able to become more efficient, or will they need to expand to include another layer of management management, that nullifies the advances. There are also concerns about additional efficiency increasing the "carrying capacity of cities," into unsustainable levels.
  • Can the conclusions from automated city-wide reporting lead to advancements in quality of service, if we're better at determining defective practices and equipment. In this vein, how cities share data between them will also be quite interesting.

I'd love to hear from you!

[1]RedMonk also use a similar argument.
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