Bookmarked Home Assistant, en wat ik er momenteel mee doe by an author
Home Assistent met RaspberryPi, Zigbee en lampjes in de woon- en slaapkamer. Een kijkje in de... nou ja, niet in de keuken.

Useful post (in Dutch) by Max Roeleveld on his home automation using a RaspberryPi with Home Assistant. On how to do these things without silo’d hard- and software. To motivate others to take more online and offline things into their own control, not beholden to some service provider that then basically controls your off-switch, and harvests your behavioural data in the process.

In our household we are very much addicted to our Philips Hue lamps all over the house. We run those without external access or connections (we don’t use it to switch on/off lights when we’re not at home), but still it’s a silo of course. It could integrate with Home Assistant I see. There’s other unused stuff (Ikea’s Trådfri lamps a.o.) around the house too.

Bookmarked for the ‘someday’ project list.

Bookmarked Imagining a “smart city” that treats you as a sensor, not a thing to be sensed | Cory Doctorow's craphound.com
the idea of an Internet of Things that treats people “as sensors, not things to be sensed” — a world where your devices never share your data with anyone else to get recommendations or advice, but rather, where all the inanimate objects stream data about how busy they are and whether they’re in good repair, and your device taps into those streams and makes private recommendations, without relaying anything about you or your choices to anyone else. As I’ve often written, the most important thing about technology isn’t what it does, but who it does it to, and who it does it for. The sizzle-reels for “smart cities” always feature a control room where wise technocrats monitor the city and everyone in it — all I’m asking is that we all get a seat in that control room.

Cory Doctorow formulates something that I think can go onto every list of principles organisations I work with formulate for smart cities, as well as the many data ethics discussions I sit in on.

Don’t track people, help people track the environment to feed their decisions. This flipping of perpective fits with what I posted yesterday about Peter Bihr’s approach to smart cities. It also fits with my main irritation at the state of debate about self driving cars, where all is centered on the car itself. Self driving cars will need to tap into a myriad of sensor streams from lamp posts, road pavement, and whatnot.

Cory’s approach provides agency, the standard smart city approaches tend to take it away.

Liked a post by an authoran author
Over the past few weekends I've been overhauling my home automation systems. At the core, as I decide what to buy and how to configure it, there are three primary principles

Aaron Parecki has been playing around with sensors in his home. He lists the three principles he applies to how his home automation is set up:

  • Manual override: Everything automated has to still have the ability to be controlled manually
  • Keep it at home: No “cloud” services unless absolutely necessary (e.g. push notifications to a phone)
  • Open: Avoid vendor lock-in, use open source and open protocols where possible

These are three principles that make sense in more contexts, where the second principle “keep it at home” I relate to the “useful on its own, more useful when connected to other instances” element that is important to me in thinking about smart homes.

Rather impressive is that Aaron is dropping technology that has been acquired by silos, and breaks those principles after he started using it, and not just uses them to inform buying decisions.

Silo-imprisonment and closed tools result in a smart home that isn’t smart for you, but smart for the vendors. Like how Smart City TM visions were about dull boring security focused panopticons keeping people in check. Not the vibrant community where ideas, people, capital, goods and artisanship recombine into a total so much more than the sum of its parts, where smart technology aids those serendipitous recombinations.

A smart home to me is one that is not just a dwelling but a productive actor (a “MakerHousehold“), for the people that live in it, for its immediate neighbourhood and for the city it is in. This was what I was interested in when shaping the ‘Smart Stuff That Matters‘ unconference last year.

Aaron got me thinking about potential sensors in our home again. Also because data gathering is the starting point for finding points of action. AI for the rest of us I think needs to be based on self collected data around the house / person, mixed with public data for context.

Read Everybody Hates the Key Card. Will Your Phone Replace It?
Technology that allows hotel guests to use their phones as room keys is expanding, taking aim at those environmentally unfriendly plastic cards.

Hotel keys
Hotel keys, photo by Susanne Nilsson, license CC BY-SA

Everybody hates the keycard, says the NYT, and talks about using your phone instead. There are a few reasons why using your phone as a hotel key is not something I do, or would do.

One reason is provided by the hotels promoting this themselves:

And, since the keys are downloaded electronically through a hotel app, the host has a presence on the guests’ phones, and can offer other exclusive services, like promotions and a chat feature.

Presence on my phone, that sounds rather ominous. Let me count the hotel apps I currently allow on my phone…. 0.

Unless there’s an opt-in for each single additional ‘service’ as part of a hotel’s ‘presence’ on my phone, it is in breach of the GDPR wherever I travel. Do hotel chains really want to expose up to 4% of their annual turnover to liability risks?

The ones I’ve encountered worked through bluetooth. That opens up a wide range of potential vulnerabilities. I never have bluetooth switched on (nor wifi when not in active use, for that matter), and there are very good reasons for that. There might be other bluetooth devices nearby pretending to be my hotel door to get access to my phone, or piggyback on my room door’s communication. A plastic card and a room door never have that issue. NFC based ones have less of these issues, but still bring their own issues.

A vulnerability in a hotel’s mobile app now also becomes a vulnerability for your hotel key as well as for your phone. It also means a phone will contain data traces of any hotel you may have used it as a key. That is a privacy risk in itself, not only to yourself, but potentially as well to people you have encountered. (E.g. investigative journalists would be risking the anonymity and privacy of their sources that way.)

Another reason is, also when I travel alone I have 2 plastic key cards. I keep them in different places, so I have a back-up if one of them gets out of my hands. Having just my phone is a single point of failure risk. Phones get left in hotel bars. Phones slip out of pockets in taxi back seats. Phone batteries die.

That is the third reason, that phone batteries die, especially on intensive work days abroad. Already that is sometimes problematic for mobile boarding passes for e.g. a second leg of a trip after a long haul flight (such as last month on a trip to Canada), or an evening flight home.
When staying in a hotel, after a long day, I sometimes need to leave a phone to charge in my room (sometimes the room safe has a convenient power outlet), while I go have a coffee in the lobby. This month during holidays I left my phone charging during dinner in a hotel in Rouen, as well as in an apartment on the Normandy coast, while we headed out for a walk on the beach.
So when I read in the article “What is also great is that I don’t find myself forgetting my key in the room as I always have my phone with me“, I take that to mean “you can’t leave your room when your phone needs charging” and “you can’t return to your room if your phone battery died”.

Phones and hotel keys all have their vulnerabilities. Putting a key card on your phone doesn’t remove the existing vulnerabilities of existing key card systems, but transfers and adds them to the vulnerabilities of your phone, while also combining and increasing the potential negative consequences of one of those vulnerabilities becoming actualised.