City Broker, too much power?

The events that unfolded in Paris on Friday November 13th were horrifying. To those now gone, voices silenced and family disrupted forever I extend my thoughts, prayers and heartfelt condolences. There is no greater loss than innocence.

Smart Devices, Smart Cities and eventually Smart Services that spring from the first two to make things a little better for everyone. The concept of Smart Services represents the compilation of two distinct blog series that I have been sharing for more than three years now. The first is the continuation series, where devices are aware not only of where they are but what you are doing. So if there are services that would benefit your current activity that are available, the device would prompt you to change to the service. The other is the broader concept of the screen as a service and beyond that the many types of services that could be offered. Continuation being the consumption, screen as a service being the shared service offered.

The broad concept of A Free Internet for all is one fraught with pot holes. As Cloud Brokers and the various components under a broker rise from the market we will begin to see many things that today aren’t there. Personally there is great value in the rise of Municipal Cloud Brokers. Their ability to offer shared services for personal and home private cloud users will be a value. The problem of course is that Shakespeare said power corrupts.

So we will need checks and balances. The first and probably easiest is the creation of a non-governmental agnecy (NGA) that would manage the security of the blackboxes and chips. Of course that agency now gains additional access to the home and personal spaces of users. So that agency would need to have restrictions put on it. The problem is the management and security of home private and personal clouds will create a power base. Humans don’t always do well with Big Brother so checks and balances would need to be in place.

The other option would be splitting the functionality as above with an NGA providing security and the city or municipality providing the broker services. The reverse could also be done where the NGS provides the broker functionality and the smart city provides the security services.

It is about trust. In a system with checks and balances do you trust all sides. A democratic system (if one actually existed) would allow for the rise and fall of ideas. People, anybody, could run for office and change the perception and reality of the world. Power however doesn’t always support that paradigm. You can have a single authoritative leader. A ruler who drives all. You can have a group of people that control everything. Power Corrupts and the scary thing about a City Broker and City Broker Marketplace is the potential for the creation of massive amount of power in one place.

I am arguing the other side of what I proposed yesterday. Its because, based on an email I got and some thinking I did, I wonder if in fact the check and balances aren’t more important than the system itself.

The value of a Smart City Broker and the services that can be provided to citizens would be immense. The automation of non-emergency city services alone would reduce the cost of city government and allow for greater services, provided much more quickly.

On the other hand the risk is that all traffic coming in and out of your home can now be monitored and controlled. An NGA at the local level wouldn’t have the power to stop a corrupt city leader from co-opting that data. But national NGA would have enough power that a corrupt leader would start there in an governmental overthrow. Control information and you can control people.

I am not advocating the rejection of my idea. I still believe that best place for a cloud broker to exist is at the Municipal level. I do after Friday and watching the news yesterday about what happened worry about the power generated. The idealistic dream would be the rise of municipal brokers that enabled greater security at the home private and personal cloud level. Provided by a smart city with no political gain or power grab.

The relativistic view is that the creation of these brokers does pose some risk. It generates a power base that will require a significant level of checks and balances. There are trade-offs in building a solution that benefits people. You will gain security at home for your home systems. You will however be letting someone onto the edge of your network. It may require two black boxes be deployed. The first at your connection to the internet managed by the City Broker, the second actually between your house and the city box would be your personal box. That allows you to protect everything in your home from the city box viewing it. It doesn’t however solve the problem of the city seeing everything that comes to your house form the internet.

I guess trust becomes the most important part of this. Building and deploying a solution that someone builds trust will be the only way to move forward with the City Broker dream.


shattered dreams…