Finally after four long months the end of the semester arrived, perfect time to become nostalgic and do a retrospective analysis.
First of all we had to understand a very important concept of the course: what is a smart city, “kp2” with the course name? A smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology.
They always put people first. In the approach to the Smart Cities Mission, the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart‘ Solutions.
Once understanding this we could select a project (and a team hehehe) to perform throughout the course. And that’s how the super powerful girls were born: Constanza, Mark, Gabo y David whom throughout the semester developed a bike user application as an extension of a bike rebalancing predictive system for the Guadalajara Bike Sharing System (BSS) called “MIBICI”.
It was during this development that we realized how smart city projects are related with ethics. Our case was not nothing special, we simply had to find a way to explicitly ask our users to access their location and allow us to save a history of their travels. Recalling that according to the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the consent must be informed, explicit and unambiguous.
Here was another important concept: transparency. Within the scope of ethical values, transparency is known as the ability of a human being for others to clearly understand their motivations, intentions and objectives. It focuses on carrying out practices and methods at the public disposal, without having anything to hide. Transparency is also about notification; it is important that an individual be notified when their data is collected and for what use it is intended.
Another thing that I reflected on thanks to one of the weekly topics was that it does not matter how discrete we try to be online, whatever we do, specially related with smart cities/smart citizens solutions is transformed to data which use or misuse will affect our digital identity. It is weird thinking that there is a lot of data of us that we can not access neither control, and maybe in some future could affect us. We do not know who, when and how consult something related to us or what actions will be taken with that information. In this moment, we could be part of thousand of social experiments. There are many companies that depend on our collaboration and we do not even know it.
How interesting is that there are platforms that share some of the information collected with us, that make us feel part of something and transparently ask us for help, ask for our data and we openly do it, in a consensual way because we know that we benefit from other people that also decide to do it. This was another interesting topic Data as a commons for Smart City. A common is something that is for the benefit or interests of all; as people of DECODE project establish data should be the fundamental public infrastructure of the 21st century, as were roads, street lights and clean drinking water in the past. City governments should start conceiving data as a new type of common good, because by helping citizens regain control of their data, it is possible to generate public value rather than private profit.
Again, the way data is treat could be something beneficial or can have serious consequences. Smart surveillance for example promises to improve security in a more efficient and automated way, however it brings with it many security risks and privacy implications, the smartness of surveillance can become polysemic. On the one hand, it could mean that surveillance systems are able to achieve their intended
aims without being noticed by the person or the group that is monitored (and
hence are much more effective at the same level of intrusiveness). On the other
hand, one of the meanings of smart surveillance in a legal context could rather lie
in the fact that the (use of a) surveillance technology is privacy-proof and/or
And what about inverse surveillance, when those who are usually watched begin watching their watchers; that strategy, in my opinion of utilitarian ideology, that infringes the right to privacy and causes psychological problems to the victims, such as the case of Assia Boundaoui and her neighbors that I wrote about in a previous blog.
It is clear to me that as technology advances tasks and processes are optimized and better executed without the error of human factor. However if the humans behind these technologies do not work in an ethically professional manner, if they have a capitalist mentality above humanist or if do not take the necessary precautions may put at risk our privacy, security and integrity.