Networked Risk: Anxiety and Everyday Infrastructure

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Information about Networked Risk: Anxiety and Everyday Infrastructure
News & Politics

Published on February 24, 2014

Author: sdng1


Networked Risk: Anxiety and Everyday Infrastructure Stephen Graham Newcastle University

•  "If you want to destroy someone nowadays, you go after their infrastructure" (Phil Agre 2001) •  "There is nothing in the world today that cannot become a weapon" (Liang and Xiangsui, 1999) •  "Real security cannot be cordoned off. It is woven into our most basic social fabric. From the post office to the emergency room, from the subway to the water reservoir" (Naomi Klein, 2001)

Networked Risks: Starting Points •  Socio-technical ‘hybrids’ through which Nature is continually metabolized into Culture to literally produce the City •  Many scales and scapes of simultaneous and interacting flows and connectivities •  Often taken for granted, ubiquitous, banalised. •  Revealed when they fail, are disrupted or deliberately destroyed. "The normally invisible quality of working infrastructure becomes visible when it breaks: the server is down, the bridge washes out, there is a power blackout" (Star, 1999). •  In urbanising ‘network societies’ crucial in mediating construction and experience of hazards and risks

Hazards, Risks and Networked Urbanism •  Urbanites "are particularly at risk when their complex and sophisticated infrastructure systems are destroyed and rendered inoperable, or when they become isolated from external contacts" (Barakat1998) •  ‘Natural’ hazard events distributed in space and time via networked disruptions. Multiple orders of impacts caused by disruption •  Current changes: privatisation/liberalisation? Just in Time flows: tightly coupled systems •  Soon "people won't be able to just turn the machines off, because they will be so dependent on them that turning them off would amount to suicide" (Joy,2000).

“War in the Weirdly Pervious World” I: Infrastructural Insurgencies •  ”Today, wars are fought not in trenches and fields, but in living rooms, schools and supermarkets" (Barakat, 1998). •  War and geopolitical struggle are increasingly being fought through the infrastructures of everyday urban life •  "The world struggle against terrorists will continue because our global economy simultaneously creates many possible weapons and angers many possible enemies" (Luke, 2003)

‘Homeland Security’ : Networked Infrastructures as Sources of Boundless Threat

“War in the Weirdly Pervious World” II: State Infrastructural Warfare •  “It should be lights out in Belgrade : every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted. We will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950 ? We can do 1950. You want 1389 ? We can do that, too!” (New York Times Columnist, Thomas Friedman, April 23rd, 1999)

“We have not run out of targets. Afghanistan has!” Donald Rumsfeld •  "We need to study how to degrade and destroy our adversaries' abilities to transmit their military, political, and economic goods, services and information. Infrastructures, defining both traditional and emerging lines of communication, present increasingly lucrative targets for airpower [The vision of] airmen should focus on lines of communications that will increasingly define modern societies" (Felker, 1998).

First Order Effects Second Order Effects Third Order Effects No light after dark or in Erosion of command and Greater logistics complexity building interiors control capabilities No refrigeration Increased requirement for Decreased mobility power generating equipment Some stoves/ovens non Increased requirement for Decreased Situational operable night vision devices Awareness Inoperable hospital electronic Increased reliance on battery- Rising disease rates equipment powered items for news, broadcasts, etc. No electronic access to bank Shortage of clean water for accounts/money Rising rates of malnutrition drinking, cleaning and preparing food Disruption in some Hygiene problems Increased numbers of non- transportation and combatants requiring communications services assistance Disruption to water supply, Inability to prepare and Difficulty in communicating treatment facilities, and process some foods with non-combatants sanitation

Iraq 1991-2003: ‘Bomb Now, Die Later’ "Perhaps the real answer is that by declaring dualuse targets legitimate military objectives, the Air Force can directly target civilian morale. In sum, so long as the Air Force includes civilian morale as a legitimate military target, it will aggressively maintain a right to attack dual-use targets" (Rizer, 1998).

Towards State ‘Computer Network Attack’ •  ”Adversary military forces are ultimately an output or peripheral of a weapon system and its sustaining, often civil, infrastructure. Corrupt the sustaining systems and, like a driver deprived on his oxygen supply, the adversary military force may be ineffective. Once the pattern of information-dependent human activities is identified, the information target can be detected and identified, and the data on which the activity is dependent could be intercepted, destroyed, or corrupted by appropriate replacement in peace and war" (Kelly, 1996).

Conclusions •  Must integrate networked infrastructures and networked risks fully into conceptualisations of hazards, risks and security •  Challenge many conventional understandings of hazards •  Socio-technical and socio-natural perspectives blend with critical geopolitics •  All networked connections provisional; require continuous work; can easily shift to disconnection which mediate and distribute hazards and risks; can easily be manipulated or used as weapons of political violence •  Just the sort of innovative/ interdisciplinary agenda for IHR squared?

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