This is particularly painful in a time when other cities build reserves and get fat and strong from years of economic boom. Their getting fat could mean they are getting complacent, not something we could afford here in many years. Even in the most affluent places such as San Francisco, strength isn't flowing evenly. People with service jobs can't afford to live there anymore, no matter how liberal and well meaning the local government. Baltimore largely has staid affordable.
This, then, becomes one of Baltimore's consolations: We have avoided some of the pitfalls of success. Still, when it comes to inequity, we are a frontline community, and know what we are talking about, what with having invented the racist restrictive covenants and zoning codes that laid the groundwork for systemic inequity?
But are we resilient? Is it is resilient if people in neighborhoods that are under fire every night get up in the morning, go to the bus stop for the long journey to a job that doesn't pay enough? To add insult to injury, those very same people learn just now that their bus ticket will soon cost 10 cents more. Yes, that is less than the single ride ticket in most other cities, but many of those places have ambitious transit plans like the $billion Red Line that was taken off Baltimore's docket. Meanwhile, our system, stuck in its current size, is slowly improving its performance. Resilience?
|Baltimore IT Director Frank Jones at ransomware press conference|
Is it resilient when dozens of non-profits have to address re-entry of formerly imprisoned citizens because our criminal justice system has "correction" only in its name and not in its practice?
Is it resilience when dozens of non-profits such as Turnaround Tuesday or Barclay Corps have to do workforce development because our schools churn out students that cannot get any jobs for lack of skills? Is it resilience when citizens have to patrol their own streets because the trust to the Baltimore Police is so broken that collaboration looks like treason to some? Is it resilience for Cease Fire to stand tall while some Federal Hill restaurateur calls them "village idiots". (He has apologized, maybe another sign of resilience?).
Baltimore wasn't and isn't resilient against the Robin Hood Ransom Ware, even when the meter maids recovered first and retreated back to pen and paper pads to write parking tickets. But the Finance people didn't find such a work-around yet and so all home sales came to a screeching halt, the exact opposite of what this city needs. Even if we can bounce back from this sooner than later, I can already hear the words, "this happened when our servers were down", as an explanation for anything that is missing in the chain of necessary information.
|Baltimore disaster preparedness and resilience |
Most people who are not IT experts can't say, how well other cities or organizations are armed against such an attack. Many places have been hacked, apparently it is not easy to say if a City like Baltimore can have a fully effective defense against such software attacks. We know, though, the Pugh was Mayor she wasn't very complimentary about the City's IT prowess. Resilience means, we can bounce back. If the agencies have all their data and files safely squirreled away somewhere else than on the main servers and the IT Department knows what to do, it may be possible to get everything back together rather quickly. We don't know, what our IT department can do, and once again we are relying on the FBI being involved. This seems to become our trademark, not a sign of autonomy. Doesn't resilience also mean autonomy to some extent?
Possibly transparency isn't what one should expect in a case of ransomware attack, but the amount of non-communication about the topic is not heart warming or comforting. It probably means things are even worse than we think. There isn't an easy to find place where means and methods are published about how citizens can interact with the various agencies when they have to on alternative channels. After a week door stickers that say "our servers are down" are getting old. Does the City maintain a paper trail on all those transactions and records? Wouldn't that be part of resilience?
The Greater Baltimore Board of Real estate on Wednesday afternoon:Ellicott City plans to spend $150 million on getting more resilient. What would be the equivalent amount for Baltimore City, just to arm ourselves against stormwater that wreaks havoc in our valleys as well, not to mention with our aged and rotten stormwater lines? And that isn't even mentioning resilience against seawater rise that makes itself felt in Fells Point and elsewhere.
“We’ve just been informed by Baltimore City officials that I.T. technicians have determined the root of the problem in the data system compromised by the ransomware attack. Each facet of the system is being evaluated to ensure there are no glitches and that it can be relaunched fully functional and integrate with parallel systems. This process is anticipated to take between four and five business days, which would mean that the citywide system should be online and operational by the end of next week. As a word of caution, there are no guarantees for this time frame because the application of this remediation is truly untested waters.
|Russell D'acampo, Wind-Up Sapce|
|Marvin Hayes, Baltimore Compost Collective, Sept 2018|
Photo by Brandon Block.
Is it resilience when a successful arts and entertainment district far away from the waterfront can continue to thrive even though its early adapters and promoters fall like flies, from Liam Flynn to red Emma's and now Russell Dacampo's Wind-Up Space? The visitor numbers of the Film Festival ending this week will tell, among other things. The arts are needed in crisis, for comfort, as a guide and for meaning. Artists may be the most resilient folks around.
Most agree, Baltimore has grit, a term often bandied around to describe the rough edges and the authenticity that comes from unique circumstances. If being battle-worn makes people resilient, Baltimore is the epitome of resiliency. But there is a breaking point when challenges become too numerous and too big and instead of making them stronger they break people. A point when bystanders become cynical, disillusioned and give up.
Of course, in most parts of Baltimore life goes on, ransomware or not, and regardless who is mayor. As a place with low cost real estate, so close to Washington, there are enough investors who wonder if they couldn't get something going here. But our very own Cordish company rather invests near a $1 billion in Kansas City (Cordish COO Zed Smith) than here. One shouldn't discount the possibility, that cities can actually fail.
Klaus Phlipsen, FAIA