The Platform

Rendering of the corporate headquarters of Apple.

The future of cities is taking a bifurcated direction today. One direction is the continuation of a physical direction by improving aging infrastructure like the power grid and broadband connectivity to support new applications and the other is a virtual direction which will include creating and implementing Metaverse applications on a whole new platform for digital commerce.

With new technology and applications constantly emerging on the horizon, cities need to address a comprehensive plan updating their aging, physical infrastructure, and the platform for commerce, to ensure that they can support new corporate facilities requiring mission-critical applications in their daily operations. Those physical layers are also the foundation for virtual applications which require a stable and secure virtual platform to be operational and successful. Resiliency and security are dual cornerstones which need to be well-established within the total framework of a smart city as well as on the Metaverse.

When it comes to smart cities, one of the cardinal rules to remember is that “smart cities do not have dumb buildings.” All commercial buildings should have intelligent amenities focusing on redundant power and broadband connectivity serving the building on diverse routing, giving it the ability to support mission-critical applications.

Real improvements, like adding routing diversity and redundancy for both power and broadband connectivity can only improve the value of all the buildings in a downtown area or suburban office campus. These capital investments make them more reliable and resilient which are the key intelligent amenity features corporate tenants are demanding today for their mission-critical applications.

Most downtown and suburban office park commercial buildings fail to meet the requirements of this standard. Real improvements need to be made on a vast majority of buildings if they are to be able to support “mission-critical applications.”

Smart buildings support 21st-century mission-critical applications, dumb buildings do not. Most downtown office buildings do not have redundant power and broadband connectivity coming into them.

As I observed in an earlier article, in a post-COVID environment, many companies are shrinking their corporate footprint and they are reducing their amount of leased space in many buildings. This is what I call the “reverse of musical chairs” phenomenon. More office space will become available and there will be less demand. Only the office space which provides the best resilient infrastructure, as defined above, will be leased and the rest will remain vacant.

At this point, companies are already reassessing their corporate leasing arrangements and are shrinking space requirements to the tune of 50% or more. This will create a deluge of empty office space on the market. Those who are looking for space will have their choice, and their choice will not be any building which does not have the intelligent amenities of reliable, redundant services for power and broadband connectivity.

What civic and political leaders of municipalities should be doing is assessing all the vulnerable levels of their current infrastructure, the platform for commerce, and discovering how to make them more reliable, more redundant, and more resilient, before venturing into developing virtual applications.

On the virtual side, the promise of new experiences, applications, and 3D animation will create a whole new platform for digital commerce. The problem is crime will also work its way into this virtual world as well. It already has.

The Crimaverse will consist of various criminal enterprises ranging from scam counterfeit NFTs and digital land opportunities, to phony digital wallets and other places to store digital assets which then can be transferred to another holding site. The more creative the scam, the more likely it will be successful, even with the promise of the “security” of blockchain technology.

As far as the security of blockchain technology, thus far, the results aren’t promising.

Terrorist organizations will also roam the digital landscape using the virtual world platform to practice and finetune operations and terrorist events for the real world. They will use the Metaverse as their cyber-sandbox to finetune attacks in the real world.

They will also attempt to infiltrate where the money is in the cryptocurrency markets for various reasons, including the attempt to destabilize crypto transactions or to steal currency for their own operations.

The White House has even acknowledged problems with this emerging technology. The administration issued an Executive Order in March, that according to Bloomberg, “directs relevant federal agencies to figure out or define their position on crypto, and identify ways to both protect consumer rights and the rights of investors.”

With all these issues and concerns about crime being created in the virtual world in the Metaverse, shouldn’t we be looking at defining a new role for law enforcement, including a framework for defining all the types of crimes and their potential deterrents?

Let’s not rush into problems without first thinking about safeguards to avoid them.

James Carlini is a strategist for mission critical networks, technology, and intelligent infrastructure. Since 1986, he has been president of Carlini and Associates. Besides being an author, keynote speaker, and strategic consultant on large mission critical networks including the planning and design for the Chicago 911 center, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor networks, and the international network for GLOBEX, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University.