Smart city initiatives are underway worldwide, from Denver to Singapore to London to Oakland. Sensors, cameras, and microphones in the cityscape bring the promise of increased efficiency and improved security. These benefits also come with potential harms including privacy and security vulnerabilities, as well as the potential to exacerbate socioeconomic disparity. Communities should proactively engage in discussions around the development of smart cities to reap benefits from these technologies while minimizing harms.
We created an interactive installation to use as a participatory design probe to help inform the public about the potential concerns of smart cities. Providing a tactile and transparent way to engage with public use sensors resulted in users having deeper, more emotional and more thoughtful responses to potential privacy harms.