Automating security infrastructures: Practices, imaginaries, politics
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AbstractThis article contributes to emergent debates in critical security studies that consider the processes and effects that arise where new forms of automated technology begin to guide security practices. It does so through research into public Wi-Fi infrastructure that has started to appear across the globe and its mobilization as a device for warning the public about emergencies. I focus specifically on an iteration of this infrastructure developing in New York called LinkNYC. According to the infrastructure’s operators, the processes that underpin emergency communication have gradually become ‘automated’ to accelerate LinkNYC’s deployment during crises. The article pursues three lines of inquiry to explore the automation of security infrastructure, in turn making three correspondent original contributions to wider debates. First, it unpacks the real-time analytics and platform-based data-sharing techniques cultivated to automate emergency communication. Here, I expand understanding of the new forms of automation now integrated into technologies harnessed for security and their practical effects. These forms of automation, I demonstrate secondly, are situated by those governing into wider imaginaries concerning the transformative promise automation bears. I argue that the proliferation of these imaginaries play a crucial role in justifying and dictating the enrolment of new devices into security. Third, it explores how automation affords private companies the opportunity to exercise discretionary decisionmaking that changes how and when infrastructure should operate during emergencies. Developing this argument, I add new dimensions to debates regarding the political ramifications associated with automation by claiming that automation redistributes authority across the public and private organizations that increasingly coordinate in bringing new technologies to bear in the security domain.
CitationSecurity Dialogue, volume 52, issue 3, page 231-248
DescriptionFrom SAGE Publishing via Jisc Publications Router
History: epub 2020-08-28
Publication status: Published