As technology quickly advances, so does much of our surroundings. Smart Cities and Communities is a vision whereby technology is integrated into all the elements of a city, such as its schools, transportation systems, shops, waste management, hospitals, and law enforcement. Much of the current research available is on the technical development Smart Cities and Communities and avoids taking on the viewpoint of the general public. We therefore set out to explore the potential enablers and blockers for Smart Cities and Smart Communities in relation to people. In collaboration with students from the University of Gloucestershire we set about researching concepts and perceptions around the development of Smart Cities and Smart Communities, this brought up several subtopics and the two we found most interesting are as follows. One piece of research explored individual’s perceptions of mobile data privacy; how much of our personal data is kept private when we use free and paid-for mobile applications. This initial literature review led to us conducting some primary research on whether consumers were aware of how much of their personal data was kept private and their understanding of what they are agreeing to when they consent to the terms and conditions of free and paid-for applications. 73 participants were recruited via social media to carry out an online survey.
We produced six scenarios and eight questions around mobile app use and data privacy; of which, the survey utilised and adapted four scenarios and added additional questions. An interesting finding, although somewhat predictable based on general discussions before carrying out the research, showed that 73% of participants admitted to not reading all the terms and conditions before downloading an app. However, from case studies using fictional apps but based on real data usage of many popular apps, the majority of participants said that would delete an app because they felt it had access to too much personal information. Another area we explored was feelings associated with well-being when using the internet and all connected technology. This led to the publication of a white paper on digital well-being across generations, and this paper was presented at the Ergonomics and Human Factors Conference 2017. This paper explored internet use, digital technology and digital well-being as part of a broader exploration into the value of human perception in the development of the IoT and Smart Cities. Our main aim was to explore the generational differences between the younger and older groups’ perceptions. 99 participants were recruited via social media to take part in an online survey. Comparisons were made between two age categories; 16-29 and 60+.
There was a distinct difference in attitudes between the 16-29s, termed ‘digital natives’, and the over 60s, termed ‘digital immigrants’. Digital immigrants are defined as individuals born into the digital world and therefore being ‘native speakers’ of the components of computers, video games and the internet whereas digital immigrants are individuals not born into the digital world who were instead introduced to it later in life and having to adopt this new technology (Prensky, 2001). 100% of participants said that they considered all aspects of their life to be private when it comes to sharing it on social media, however those who responded also claimed that they would not mind sharing certain aspects of their life with 70% of participants saying they wouldn't mind sharing pictures of important life events. There is a distinct difference in the attitudes between digital immigrants and digital natives.
The analysis indicated that the over 60s utilise the digital world at its face value; a way to stay connected and interact with likeminded others. Whereas, the 16-29s are often dissatisfied with their connectedness; repeatedly feeling frustrated the service. The combination of research demonstrated that most consumers do not read the terms and conditions and therefore including how data is used in these is not effective. The creators of apps, and also other bodies such as the government, as a result of the findings need to be more upfront and find more successful ways at ensuring the consumer fully understands exactly what they are agreeing to when signing up to anything with terms and conditions. The findings also demonstrate on multiple levels that despite some suggestions regarding digital immigrants being unwilling to accept new technologies, they are actually already embracing the digital world. This shows the need to ensure that all age groups are accommodated for in the development and execution of Smart Cities and Smart Communities. If you would like any more information, or to see the reports in full, please get in touch.