Walking home from the office one day, we couldn’t help but notice some strange markings had appeared on the streets of Lambeth.
So is this the demented work of some surrealist mathematician relation of Banksy? Alas, no – just the contractors hired by Lambeth Council who go around using maps and detection tools, marking out the locations of the various power, water, telephone and cable lines under the tarmac. That’s so that when they come to dig up the road as part of the mammoth ongoing project to replace London’s decrepit sewage system, they don’t accidentally hit something else in the process.
And then it occurred to us: as useful as these markings were in avoiding accidentally drilling into London’s infrastructure … Didn’t that also make them just as useful for anyone who wanted to drill into them and cause damage, chaos and confusion? In these “times of increased security awareness” it’s rather surprising that key information about London’s vital utilities is not only not jealously guarded and restricted – but flaunted for all to see in highly visible, highly colourful street art.
Perhaps exploiting this type of opportunity isn’t as easy or as damaging as it appeared to our layperson’s perspective. But still, the chance of flooding streets, cutting communications, disrupting power supplies to thousands of people would seem like a reasonably tempting opportunity to the neighbourhood cell. And even if all this information is on file at the local council for all and sundry to come and ask to see – it’s quite another thing to actually splash it out at the feet of absolutely everyone and anyone walking by.
Or maybe we’re just getting too paranoid these days.
(With thanks to Seb, who spotted the markings and made the point in the first place.)