You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide?

Designing a tour that enables citizens of Utrecht to critically reflect about the collection and use of their personal data and its privacy consequences within the smart city

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In 2008 more than 50 percent of all people, 3.3 billion people, lived in urban areas according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund, n.d.). By 2030 this will be approximately 5 billion (Lea, 2017). On the one hand, with fast urban growth also come challenges in the way we build and manage cities. On the other hand, technologies that are discovered in this era of digitization can produce opportunities for the economic and social development of cities. Not only making sure that cities stay safe and livable, but also to improve them, these technologies are indispensable. Worldwide engineers turn to technology to tackle challenges of fast urban growth (Arroub et al., 2016). Aside from tackling these challenges, technologies provide opportunities for economic and social development of cities keeping the cities safe and livable. Both of these aspects are often gathered under the term: ‘Smart City’. Though there are many definitions, visions or imaginaries of what a smart city is or should be, there are key elements that can be attributed to ‘smart cities’. One of the key elements of a smart city is collecting data through sensors embedded in our surroundings to better understand, monitor, regulate and plan the city, with the goal to stimulate and support innovation and economic growth and provide sustainable and efficient urban management and development (Kitchin, 2014). However, data raises concerns regarding its design, development and deployment for smart cities (Al Nuaimi et al., 2015) as well as other concerns relating to ethical issues (Kitchin, 2014). Privacy certainly proves to be the most prominent issue in digitization and big data (Kool et al., 2017). Several international organizations have even identified privacy as a key policy, regulatory and legislation challenge of the 21st century (van Zoonen, 2016). This leads to the following design goal:
“Designing a tour that enables citizens of Utrecht to critically reflect on the collection and use of their personal data and its privacy consequences within the smart city”. Pusca is an application based Personal Utrecht Smart City Assistant that takes the user on a one time tour through Utrecht to explore and experience smart city technologies that could improve their quality of life. Each of the stops presents a service provided by a smart city technology that can be experienced by sharing personal data. The user is asked to make a trade-off between their estimated privacy value of the asked personal data and the benefits of the presented smart technology. At the end of the tour the user gets confronted with privacy consequences of sharing their personal data that provokes a critical reflection on the trade-offs that the user made during the tour. This design is a start for knowing how we want our privacy to be protected, by letting people create an opinion about this. I hope that this project can be a first step into creating a society where open and standard policies about safeguarding citizens’ privacy within smart city technologies will be secured.