Monday, March 25, 2013

CityScan: the dystopian technology that could make breaking the law impossible

High-tech, fully-automated code enforcement could be a boon for city coffers

There's a scene in Demolition Man — the goofball 1993 action film starring Sylvester Stalone as a violent police officer and Taco Bell as the only restaurant in America — in which a machine emerges from a grass-covered lawn in front of a Los Angeles government building. The machine sprays "LIFE IS HELL" in colorfully exaggerated graffiti text on a sterile-looking concrete sign labeled "Ethical Plaza." Whatever might the city do to scrub this defacement from its facade?

Well, this is the future, remember — Demolition Man takes place in 2032 — and graffiti is apparently no longer a big deal. The sterile-looking concrete sign knows it's been defaced, somehow, and wipes itself clean — a sort of automated building code enforcer.

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