Perspective Piece: Water Management for Smart Cities: Implications of Advances in Real-Time Sensing, Information Processing, and Algorithmic Controls
George Washington Journal of Energy & Environmental Law, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 153-163 (2016)
12 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2016
This Perspective Piece considers the implications of advances in technologies for sensing, and making sense of, information about aquatic ecosystems, not merely for ensuring compliance with mandates and metrics in existing permits and regulations, but also for incorporating “systems” thinking into regulatory and management regimes. It gives particular attention to the problems of cities — or more broadly, urbanized areas with dense human populations — where the socioeconomic system typically depends on various kinds of infrastructure and multiple administrative bodies to channel interactions between human and natural systems.
Part I discusses some well-known obstacles that stand in the way of wisely coordinating urban activities with the dynamics of aquatic ecosystems, with a focus on the institutional barriers that prevent decision-makers from adequately perceiving and taking action based on important ecological information. Part II highlights aspects of recent technological advances that facilitate new efforts to overcome such obstacles. Enhanced sensing and monitoring capabilities, paired with advances in data analysis and visualization, sharpen ecological understanding and streamline adaptive responses. Finally, Part III discusses the promise and the perils of close dependence on smart technologies that include algorithms for automatically sensing, comprehending, and adjusting human activities, and it considers the implications of technological advances for structuring legal requirements.
Keywords: waste management, smart cities, algorithms
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