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An Operating System For Cities

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the can't-wait-for-those-citywide-blue-screens dept.

Networking 216

CProgrammer98 writes "BBC News reports that cities may soon get their own operating system. From the article: 'The Urban OS works just like a PC operating system but keeps buildings, traffic and services running smoothly. The software takes in data from sensors dotted around the city to keep an eye on what is happening. In the event of a fire, the Urban OS might manage traffic lights so fire trucks can reach the blaze swiftly. The sensors monitor everything from large scale events such as traffic flows across the entire city down to more local phenomena such as temperature sensors inside individual rooms. The OS completely bypasses humans to manage communication between sensors and devices such as traffic lights, air conditioning or water pumps that influence the quality of city life."

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And they called it... (2)

Firemouth (1360899) | about 3 years ago | (#37568442)

Skynet!

Re:And they called it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568500)

Maybe if you live in the Floating City of I dunno, Dalaran.

But the rest of us just have GroundNet

Re:And they called it... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37568660)

Seriously, flying city... technology... and you think of Dalaran?

*pulls out a light saber*
Geek card. Now.

Re:And they called it... (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 3 years ago | (#37568742)

Sorry, he was already murdered by an enraged Lobot [wikia.com]

Re:And they called it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568800)

What can I say? I don' t have a Blu-Ray player so I haven't had a reason to worship at George Lucas's latest money-grubbing altar, so the only thing I've even thought about Star Wars wise is the Old Republic, and that's because of the Steam Sale last week.

My Black Diamond Geek Card stays in the Wallet though, I was actually on Gary Gygax's porch once. By invitation. Sadly the luck dice didn't pan out.

Re:And they called it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569010)

I was actually on Gary Gygax's porch once. By invitation. Sadly the luck dice didn't pan out.

No goodnight kiss?

Re:And they called it... (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 3 years ago | (#37569202)

Run, Anon. I'll CC Star Wars boy!

*casts entangling roots on ByOhTek*

Re:And they called it... (2)

xclr8r (658786) | about 3 years ago | (#37569174)

Whomever thought of this obviously did not watch the Battle Star Galactica series that came out last decade. I welcome our new Cylon overlords.. that is.. if I haven't been incinerated from the sky 1st.

and it will never happen.... (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#37568448)

City governments cant keep the basics running smoothly. How the hell are they going to maintain a giant sensor network like that?

there are 4 streetlights in my neighborhood that never work right. if they cant get that working, they will never get a complex system working. City governments do not run like a business. Preventative maintenance is not an option.

Re:and it will never happen.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568628)

they never work right because the people they hired to make are usually the lowest bidder. There's no qualitative and comparative assessment. It really should be a competition contest based selection process, not a lowest bidder assessment.

Also we vote ppl that don't know anything about the real world. they are so specialized in political intrigue, what else do they have in their heads? Specialization is slow death.

Re:and it will never happen.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568758)

My city has a great digital traffic infrastructure, but when it fails, it fails catastrophically. Drivers revert to "biggest car has the right of way" rules at intersections. Pedestrians are unable to cross streets. Seriously, if there ever is a SkyNet, it won't need to attack us. It just needs to stop functioning after a few years of flawless service. We'll take care of the rest ourselves.

But my point was, even when cities can get these things up and running, they seem to be unable to afford the redundancy needed to keep them working, allowing small failures to cascade out.

Re:and it will never happen.... (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 3 years ago | (#37569054)

I think disabling all traffic lights and turning off stop signs every Sunday would help a lot. People would have to re-learn the traffic rules they have forgotten, like yield to right and do not block intersection on pain of nightstick.

No, I am NOT kidding.

Re:and it will never happen.... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 3 years ago | (#37568976)

City governments cant keep the basics running smoothly. How the hell are they going to maintain a giant sensor network like that?

there are 4 streetlights in my neighborhood that never work right. if they cant get that working, they will never get a complex system working. City governments do not run like a business. Preventative maintenance is not an option.

City OS will be, like its present analog, infected with the the Politics Worm. Says it all, really.

Re:if they cant get that working (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 3 years ago | (#37569160)

Oh look! A City version of UAC!

"We detected a street light out of synch. Do you want to synch it? Cancel or Allow?"

Re:and it will never happen.... (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | about 3 years ago | (#37569260)

I missed the "n't" and "can't keep" originally.

Yeah, I live in an area where laying off the entire police force is seen as a creative way to save money, and the State and Local governments can't agree who owns what road. A sensor system would blow their minds.

Re:and it will never happen.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569280)

"there are 4 streetlights in my neighborhood that never work right. "

RTFA. It's not designed for 3rd world states like the United States.
This is for countries who pay taxes for this kind of stuff.

Nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568466)

It sounds like an integration of what's already out there. But when you centralize control, you also centralize failure.

Seen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neon_Genesis_Evangelion ?

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37568648)

Arguably, much of the interest in centralization seems to be a mixture of telcom, database, and analytics outfits looking for a problem to which they have a solution in stock, along with an e-penis competition among municipal and emergency services types about who can have the coolest "Command Center" with the biggest vector-art map of the city at the front, and the most uniformed people Looking Serious at banks of monitors.

This sort of problem is one where a distributed systems approach is overwhelmingly more sensible(unless your primary interests are selling system integration and/or conducting surveillance), and often already in effect.

For instance, in many cities, you will see a small sensor unit mounted somewhere on the traffic-light structures(distinguishable by a little tubular sun-shade thing). That device is there to pick up coded IR pulses emitted by emergency vehicles with their emergency lighting activated and deviate from the usual traffic light pattern in favor of giving them priority at the intersection.

There you go. A few cheap sensors, interacting with local stimuli and control systems, produces the broad-level effect you want. Works great in biological systems as well.

Re:Nice (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | about 3 years ago | (#37569110)

That's why we need a Brain and Brawn team to be in charge of the system. We can call them Simeon and Channa

!OS (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 3 years ago | (#37568476)

That is not an OS in any established or even equivalent sense of the word.

I also predict major driver issues.

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568646)

And now the most precious hack will be cross the city like an emergency vehicle.

Re:!OS (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37568946)

No Problem [i-hacked.com] .

(The poster takes no responsibility for you constructing the above circuit and getting Rodney-King'ed by angry cops or sent to FPMITAP).

Re:!OS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568694)

An operating system (OS) is a set of programs that manages computer hardware resources, and provides common services for application software.

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568736)

What's a program?

Re:!OS (1)

Karellen (104380) | about 3 years ago | (#37568994)

Quite right. The OS is in charge of mechanism, the applications - via the services (mechanisms) the OS provides - is in charge of policy.

Keeping "buildings, traffic and services running smoothly" sounds like policy to me, and hence in the domain of applications running on an OS.

Re:!OS (1)

discord5 (798235) | about 3 years ago | (#37568728)

That is not an OS in any established or even equivalent sense of the word.

Yeah, that's simcity 4 minus the disaster menu.

I also predict major driver issues.

For a moment I was thinking you were talking about road rage, that's how far this is away from an OS ;)

Re:!OS (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | about 3 years ago | (#37568826)

Yeah, that's simcity 4 minus the disaster menu.

Well you could always add in a disaster menu if you wanted, to keep with the theme of things. I'd think the easy ones to implement would be: Financial Crisis, Power Plant Meltdown, Flash Flood and possibly Food Shortage. Then just use some random number generator to trigger them and bob's your uncle, SimCityRL.

Re:!OS (1, Troll)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37568790)

Don't waist your time. Your in a world where people call computers hard drives, websites call applets --made up of widgets-- widgets, and "professionals" call everything from a windowing system to an application that correlates data an operating system.

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568832)

And a world where people can't use the write homonym.

See what I did there? :)

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568944)

Know eye did knot sea watt yew did their.

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569182)

Don't waist? Your in?

Jesus H. Dogshit. Go back to grade school.

Re:!OS (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37568808)

In addition to the hash of dubious computer buzzwords(the City OS will, of course, run "apps"), there seems to be a giant morass of dubiously tractable problems regarding a distributed system running across hardware controlled by who-knows-how-many different parties.

The pure engineering/architectural problems of unexpected consequences in complex systems(ie. whatever it was were Amazon accidentally took down EC2 last time, or debugging a cluster application whose failures depend on some wacky race condition between your nodes) aren't trivial; but that is just stuff happening in your own racks, on your own switches, with your own data, etc.

Now let's throw in the mixture of social and architectural problems brought up by the fact that this "city OS" will both need to manage 'resources' in the more-or-less-familiar-if-difficult way that operating systems have always had to manage hardware and somehow coherently manage access to data that has things like privacy implications attached to it, hardware that may be owned by somebody else who wishes to place some restrictions on management conditions, all sorts of parties with various levels of need-to-know querying data that they may or may not be supposed to get access to(oh, and be sure to devise a programmatic automatic check to ensure that if I check the "deny" box on the ACL for given piece of data for a given user, the system automatically sets permissions to keep that user from inferring the denied data from other sources that they may have access to, that shouldn't be a problem, right?)...

Plus, we've all seen how well SCADA systems exposed to the public internet work, so I predict no issues in the CITY OF THE FUTURE, where everything from the SWAT teams to Granny's pill bottle have IP addresses and management interfaces!

Re:!OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568954)

It's actually not such a bad term to describe it. Think of the roads and emergency services as hardware and the people driving those emergency vehicles are 'programs' in some sense. So really this *is* an operating system that partitions out hardware resources to the highest priority threads (aka a fire truck) first. Of course you can abuse the term to the point that a "chef is an operating system" but that doesn't make it a bad description, it just makes it an unwieldy comparison.

I think most of the audience on here have some computing background so it's a reasonable analogy.

Re:!OS (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37568998)

Much more like a Network Management System. About as far from the OS as you can get while using a computer.

Halo (1)

Vorpix (60341) | about 3 years ago | (#37568498)

This sounds like the Superintendent [wikia.com] in Halo ODST.

Re:Halo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568678)

Keep it clean!

Re:Alpha Centauri (2)

Bovius (1243040) | about 3 years ago | (#37568748)

This sounds like the Self-Aware Colony in Alpha Centauri.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwqN3Ur-wP0 [youtube.com]

Re:Alpha Centauri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569026)

Sounds like "The City" (1950) from Ray Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man" [wikipedia.org]

As with any OS, the real question is... (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 3 years ago | (#37568504)

can we get Doom to run on it?

Re:As with any OS, the real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568560)

For terrestrial cities only Doom ][ will work.

Will it need a reboot like politicians? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#37568534)

Politicians and diapers need to be changed frequently and for the same reason. (Who said that? Samuel Clemens? Sounds like something he would have said.)

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (4, Funny)

Bloopie (991306) | about 3 years ago | (#37568822)

"People are always attributing things to Mark Twain that I never actually said."

--Mark Twain

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568852)

And so are you. I couldn't find where he said that at all.

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (1)

Bloopie (991306) | about 3 years ago | (#37568964)

What? You didn't actually go and look that up, did you?

Have you ever tried doing a Google search for "Whoosh"? You might find it instructive.

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 3 years ago | (#37569014)

"Oh stuff it Sam, you have no idea." -- Confucius

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37569366)

"I know Kung fu" -- Keanu Reeves

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569058)

"I'm not actually Mark Twain."

--Samuel Clemens

Re:Will it need a reboot like politicians? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37568928)

Rebooting a politician requires a 2x4x4 stick. And a nail. This, I'm sure, will require a much bigger stick.

Why not an app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568562)

Why is this not just an application on an existing OS rather than an operating system in it's own right?

BRB (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568578)

Gotta reboot New York...

Includes FB API. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568580)

And it can plug into the facebook API to tell everyone which stoplight you are at!

Re:Includes FB API. (0)

omnichad (1198475) | about 3 years ago | (#37568860)

How about the inane stoplight twitter feed:

NYStoplight3428: Turned Green

NYStoplight3428: Turned Red

NYStoplight3428: Turned Yellow

Re:Includes FB API. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 years ago | (#37569146)

That is a fucked up stoplight.

Re:Includes FB API. (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about 3 years ago | (#37569238)

It's twitter...read from the bottom up.

We will wind up going ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568586)

the way of The Krell

Worth saying ... (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | about 3 years ago | (#37568590)

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Worth saying ... (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#37568704)

I know you were asking that question rhetorically, but this seems the best way to make the comment that was what first occurred to me.
As an Anonymous Coward wrote in another post, when you centralize control, you also centralize failure.
The other problem with this is that when something happens that requires a response different from any of those you planned for a system like this is unlikely to allow for the flexibility necessary for those on the ground to respond on the fly. All decisions will have to go through the central hub. It will have the same problems as reflected in the statement, "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

Re:Worth saying ... (1)

Nanosphere (1867972) | about 3 years ago | (#37568772)

Instead of the buildings running smoothly they break free and seek revenge against Godzilla.

BSOD (1)

in10se (472253) | about 3 years ago | (#37568600)

So the Blue Screen of Death could really mean death...

Sounds great (1)

Stides (461262) | about 3 years ago | (#37568606)

Can't even afford to keep the firetruck running, how is this going to get deployed?

Seems like a great way for consultants make a fortune doing feasibility studies to me.

Hacking Target? (1)

vlpronj (1345627) | about 3 years ago | (#37568624)

All we need is someone to figure out a DDOS on the city (flashmob - everybody press the pedestrian crossing button on 3,2,1...)

OS (2)

greghodg (1453715) | about 3 years ago | (#37568654)

Ah. This is obviously some strange usage of the word "OS" that I hadn't previously been aware of.

Re:OS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568936)

OS isn't a word, it's an acronym. And in that sense it's not so strange, just literal rather than idiomatic: it's a system, and it operates, so it's an operating system.

Re:OS (1)

vlpronj (1345627) | about 3 years ago | (#37569004)

Distributed Denial Of Service?

No Central Computer please (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about 3 years ago | (#37568670)

All of the above can and should be achieved with a de-centralized network of independent nodes (CPU's) that communicate with each other. Right now city traffic management is stuck in the 1950's, something should be done about it, and I don't mean "install traffic light cameras on every friggin intersection" as per Bloomberg.

Re:No Central Computer please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568854)

Clearly you have not worked with city infrastructure, or your city is about 30+ years behind in upgrades.

Re:No Central Computer please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568884)

Or you could do it with yellow sticky notes and young girls with calculators, if you really wanted to make life unnecessarily difficult for the implementors.

You mean... SimCity?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568702)

Ohhh, I see Sid Maier goin' "Ka-ching" on this one....

I can't wait to root this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568718)

This thing read like a wet dream. One o/s...monitoring...and controlling....every sensor in the city?

Connected to traffic cameras, traffic lights, building HVAC, lighting systems. That is aware of where fire trucks and law enforcement are? That can give me temperatures on a room-by-room basis? Will it integrate with alarm systems too? Can I use it to monitor lighting and power usage in a room to tell that somebody *really* arrives at 9:03 every day?

Where do I sign up to gain access to the API docs? I want this.

Well...no...really...I want to sell it to somebody with a botnet...but..details.

screw this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568738)

My wife likes the room hotter, I like it cooler.. she takes shows that would melt paint off of metal, I like mine warm. Centralized control sucks period. Ever been to a place where management sets the heat and you can't change it? They set it at a point to "save money" as well as please whoever is in charge, but for others its too warm or too cold.

Android (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 3 years ago | (#37568760)

It'll be something Google comes up with. They've bought wind-power technology, some sort of public transportation program (bikes? buses? I forget), YouTube, which presents the opportunity for expansion into a cable TV-alternative, Google voice. I'm sure a grocery delivery program will be coming. I'm 100 percent convinced GTown isn't far down the line. Based on how Google rolls out products, it would be a beta city, of course. ;)

SkyNet (2)

kernelrahl (465295) | about 3 years ago | (#37568768)

"The OS completely bypasses humans to manage communication between sensors and devices such as traffic lights, air conditioning or water pumps that influence the quality of city life"
--
I can almost hear the theme music to "Terminator"...

C2, not OS (4, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 years ago | (#37568812)

It's not an operating system, it's called command and control. And Katia Moskovitch (who wrote that article) has her head up her ass; several cities are doing this already, exactly as described. Anaheim, for example, has an extremely sophisticated system, especially when it comes to monitoring activity and helping first responders deal with things like car accidents, fires and hazardous material incidents. I've seen it, from the control center, and it frankly blew me away...very cool stuff. The real interesting part isn't about the data from the sensors, however; that's almost useless by itself. The real value comes from fusing that data with information that is kept about the nature of things. For example, when a fire breaks out at X place, there's information on hand about what is normally found there. Let's say it's a warehouse...does that warehouse keep anything particularly dangerous in storage, and if so, what kinds of dangers does it pose? That information is there, and can be relayed to the police and firefighters on scene so that they know what they're dealing with.

Re:C2, not OS (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 3 years ago | (#37569192)

I think most cities with a large population have some form of a command center. I know where I live (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) the local government runs an "operations center" developed by IBM. See Smarter Cities [ibm.com] and IBM Intelligent Operations Center [ibm.com] . If I recall correctly, Dublin runs more or less the same solution.

Thank disneyland ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 3 years ago | (#37569360)

Anaheim, for example, has an extremely sophisticated system, especially when it comes to monitoring activity and helping first responders deal with things like car accidents, fires and hazardous material incidents.

Thank Disneyland and Major League Baseball. Between these two there must have been a lot of homeland security dollars available for such a system. I guess the US taxpayer deserves some thanks as well.

OK the above is somewhat exaggerated. I used to work in Anaheim and I also recall some effort to run fiber optic all over the place long before 9/11. So there was also a symbiotic modernization effort that supported the above.

How old-fashioned. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 3 years ago | (#37568820)

Surely you want your city in the cloud.

Re:How old-fashioned. (1)

Karellen (104380) | about 3 years ago | (#37568924)

As an ex-smuggler who feels like going straight by, e.g. doing a little gas mining in an out-of-the-way place that won't attract much attention from the emp^H^H^Hauthorities, that sounds like just what I was looking for!

Re:How old-fashioned. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37569390)

Well, it worked for San Francisco.

Interesting (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 3 years ago | (#37568846)

The level of atomic operation required to pull an OS of this level off is unthinkable. It's one thing to manage the input from a computer, it's another to manage a stock exchange but an entire city, that's an entire new level. The biggest question is, what language, I vote Assembler :-)

Re:Interesting (1)

vlpronj (1345627) | about 3 years ago | (#37569032)

Actually, given the time-critical nature of trades, I >imagine that managing a stock exchange is not necessarily a level below managing a city.

Re:Interesting (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 3 years ago | (#37569198)

I would imagine that having to handle the pure amount of input and processing in real time for an entire city would out do a stock exchange.

COBOL! (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 3 years ago | (#37569060)

Cobol, man. No way anybody would do that in assembly.

Re:COBOL! (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 3 years ago | (#37569214)

Oh ya, Start using COBOL then Some Fortran and Pascal to really tie into a great OS. :-)

Bicycle nerds (1)

siouxgeonz (1589541) | about 3 years ago | (#37568848)

could have a field day trifling with it.

Gamed your Urban beotch! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 3 years ago | (#37568890)

"If there's a fire alarm on the fifth floor and the elevator is going to the next floor, the light will switch on - but in addition the traffic lights will be switched accordingly to turn the traffic in the right direction so that fire workers can get through".

How long before people actively use their knowledge of how one thing effects another so as to manipulate the system into doing their bidding?

It's called SCADA (2)

AB3A (192265) | about 3 years ago | (#37568894)

Yes, City OSs already exist. These are the SCADA systems that utilities use to manage their resources. The problem is that these SCADA systems do not manage resources small enough to make the sorts of differences that these pro-city coordinators expect. It is not financially feasible to do it yet.

There is also a myth that a central authority will be staffed with geniuses who will automatically comprehend the situation and make it better. As recent blackouts in Chile showed, however, it is quite possible to be overwhelmed with alarms that no human can sort through.

What good is a boss if he micro-manages everything around?

"Operating system"? Operations manual (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 years ago | (#37568908)

Cities and for that matter companies are more than computers. They are people.

They already have "operating systems" to govern their day-to-day behavior. These are laws, bylaws, procedures, employee manuals, best-practices guides, and other formal and informal ways things get done.

Yes, these tie into hardware as well and some of these processes are automated. Traffic signals may be computer-controlled but it is humans using human decision-making that decide what the overall timing patterns will be. Maybe the computer is smart enough to make those decisions itself, but it's still a human who is ultimately responsible for deciding to allow the computer to manage traffic flow and to turn the computer off or tweak its algorithms if things don't work as expected. Who makes this decision and whether that decision is made by a person, by a committee, or by a person following some checklist/human-implemented algorithm is up to the city council or other high-level leadership, who of course are human beings.

Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37568952)

What could go wrong?

BBC (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 years ago | (#37568960)

implies this will happen in european cities, which is actually possible. take California, one of our most progressive states for example. I live in LA, and we cant even keep the streets paved. traffic lights along wilshire routinely pulse and blink on and off at night for no reason. We didnt even get a single competent bike lane until mayor Vilagrosa was run over by a truck on his bike commute to work. America wont see this for 25 years, if ever.

Re:BBC (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about 3 years ago | (#37569108)

traffic lights along wilshire routinely pulse and blink on and off at night for no reason.

Umm... Many cities set their traffic signals to blink at night because it's more efficient for the reduced traffic load to treat the intersection as stop sign than to sit and wait for an entire light cycle.

Single point of failure? (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | about 3 years ago | (#37569006)

I hope if this is implemented that redundancy is built in along with fail safe operation if power or communications are cut.

Along with single point of failure many opportunities of hacking would need to be addressed.

Re:Single point of failure? (3, Funny)

dreemernj (859414) | about 3 years ago | (#37569298)

I'll be petitioning the local government to rename my street:

Main Street'); DROP TABLE parking_tickets;--

Yeah.... (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 years ago | (#37569082)

A single point of control isn't always a good idea when dealing with humans.

Cities of the future: (4, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 3 years ago | (#37569116)

Cities Of the future:

iCity (the new big Apple) will charge double the taxes to residents, a very intuitive way of manoevering the city. No private enterprise will be allowed- the city must run everything.

Kindleville, will charge half the taxes, but not many public services.

Microsoftopolis will be a huge sprawling city- that once had a decent idea, that it stole from iCity. The city will try to do everything, and do badly at most things.

Googolia will be a tax free haven- but every thing you look do or say will be sent to marketers and the streets will one big billboard.

Then there is Linux Angeles, taxes will be low, the city will do more for you, if you know how to get around. The only problem is, every facet of your life will be overly complicated and you will be forced to worship a giant penguin.

Re:Cities of the future: (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 3 years ago | (#37569190)

Almost forgot...

Facebookton- Everyone will know everything you do and say. All buildings will be made of perfectly transparant untinted glass so you can peak into anyone's home and see what they're up to. You are given the option to lock your doors- but everytime the city council changes anything your doors will all randomly spring open letting anyone in.

I know how this OS will work! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37569128)

It will only work on Windows 95 and will be written in VisualBASIC with a FoxPro database. Backups will be done by shutting the system down and copying files onto a Zip disk.

Urban OS Marketing Dept: This is Engineering... (3, Interesting)

spinninggears (551247) | about 3 years ago | (#37569168)

With due respect to the marketing folks behind Urban OS, it reality the engineering is actually going in the direction of passing useful information through the network to a variety of embedded computers who then make such decisions as granting priority to a firetruck.

I have been developing software such as this for quite a while, and it simply makes a lot more sense to tell, for instance, a traffic controller directly that a city bus is on the way than it does to tell a centralized system that a bus is on the way and have it command a traffic controller. The traffic controller is the "expert system", developed by people who know what it is supposed to be doing. It just needs data to do it's job.

On that last point, sensor failures are the reason most intelligent traffic controllers fail to do their job correctly, and the more sensors you have, the higher the percentage of failed sensors in the system. You need to solve that problem first, before you worry about what CPU the solution is running on.

This can't work. (1)

dreemernj (859414) | about 3 years ago | (#37569254)

When a handful of messages with single corrupted bits can take down S3, how long do you think systems will keep running at the corner of Corrupt-Politician Street and Lowest-Bidder-Construction Boulevard?

Re:This can't work. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 3 years ago | (#37569304)

What if, you don't vote- the city calculates who you were most likely going to vote for.

Spokeo allows you to lookup anyone online and learn "facts" about them.

Quite amusing though- it has me listed as a republican protestant. No idea how it jumped to that conclusion; I'm an agnostic centrist. It also thinks my mother is my sister... and I'm not from West Virginia.

Challenge accepted (1)

andrewa (18630) | about 3 years ago | (#37569372)

Now all that remains is to integrate this with Sim City...

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