It seems that since September of 2001, the media has made it a habit to scare the public into paying attention. While this may have worked great for the first few years, isn't it about time they change tactics?
In the last few years we've heard how everything and anything can be used against us by terrorists, pedophiles, bored children and the government. A perfect example of this unnecessary fear mongering would be the recent Vancouver Sun article talking about a possible terrorist threat that a city-wide WiFi network would introduce. This is the fourth "possible threat" that has plastered the newspapers and news channels in the last 3 days.
I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but a 4-inch aluminum pipe purchased at Home Depot and stuffed full of incendiary material for a total cost of $30 is much more likely than some Al-Queda member sitting in some remote part of Vancouver with a notebook and hacking some dam, causing it to release too much water and flooding a city.
Of course this raises another question. In the article, they say:
"The plan calls for much of the city's infrastructure, from traffic signals and TransLink systems to BC Hydro generators and Terasen gas meters, to use the wireless platform for communications and remote operations."
What genius thought of this? Someone in the higher levels of management, clearly. This is about as intelligent as hiring a convicted theif as an armoured truck driver. Critical infrastructure shoud never be placed on a public network. Anyone who thinks this is a great way to save money is just asking for trouble. Because of this, I highly doubt it will actually come to pass. Informed technology consultants will likely recommend against this kind of design as it's just foolish.
Humans are a pretty clever bunch. No sooner had we learned that we could more effectively kill healthy animals with spears that we were doing the same to our cave-dwelling rivals. You take almost any tool that we've created, from the wooden club to the wrench to the pen, and if we've found a way to use it to our advantage for a purpose it was not intended to serve.
A city-wide wireless internet infrastructure would be pretty cool. The likelyhood of the city connecting critical devices such as hydro-electric dams, traffic lights and bridges to this network is likely nil. Like every other subject that's been in the news recently regarding some sort of technology and a faceless criminal who'll take advantage of it, this story was likely conjured up and misconscrued long before it even made it to print.
We know that fear sells.
… The media breeds fear.
… … Is big media our faceless terrorist enemy?
Somebody tell Dubya! The terrorists were here all along!
It's time we stop being scared. The world is no worse today than it was 100 years ago. Sure, we have more tools to bastardise for terrible acts, but we also have more tools to use for incredible feats. Let's focus on our potential rather than some abstract "what if?" fantasies.