Understanding People’s Concerns and Attitudes Toward Smart Cities

Pardis Emami-Naeini, Joseph Breda, Wei Dai, Tadayoshi Kohno, Kim Laine, Shwetak Patel, Franziska Roesner
A photo of Seattle -- where the study took place -- from Kerry Park


Designing privacy-respecting and human-centric smart cities requires a careful investigation of people’s attitudes and concerns toward city-wide data collection scenarios. To capture a holistic view, we carried out this investigation in two phases. We first surfaced people’s understanding, concerns, and expectations toward smart city scenarios by conducting 21 semi-structured interviews with people in underserved communities. We complemented this in-depth qualitative study with a 348-participant online survey of the general population to quantify the significance of smart city factors (e.g., type of collected data) on attitudes and concerns. Depending on demographics, privacy and ethics were the two most common types of concerns among participants. We found the type of collected data to have the most and the retention time to have the least impact on participants’ perceptions and concerns about smart cities. We highlight key takeaways and recommendations for city stakeholders to consider when designing inclusive and protective smart cities.