The Problem of Privacy

js5079 – Josh Strake
Link: NetworkWorld

Link 2: CityMetric
Sustainability Problem: Civic Engagement, Safety

We often glide right over the fact that technologies – in order to optimize consumptive energy patterns, commutes to work, infrastructure projects, and everything else a ‘smart city’ might take on – must measure millions of individual citizens in some way or another. It may be a simple measurement, or it may be a much more personal and in-depth one, depending on if the technology is meant to serve individuals or to be a pulse for the city’s measurables. However, in either case, we must consider that some people will not want to be measured, and we must be aware that their legal right to privacy is one of two things: it is either at risk, or it is putting smart technology’s future at risk.


-The 4th amendment affords citizens to protection against unreasonable search – which is often interpreted by the courts to be a protection against an unconsented search: this is what smart cities may have trouble with, as they do not ‘say please’.

-Given the uncertainty about the future of technology, many people are already expressing concern about their eventual loss of privacy as smart technologies become ubiquitous: these feelings could give rise to policy and sentiment that endanger smart city technology.

-In a broad sense, the benefits of a truly integrated smart city would make the cost of privacy loss worth it – but this is at a large scale. At the individual level, some people are guaranteed to oppose the technology as they are not rational actors.


-Citizens that are being measured by smart city technology


-Tech producers that could see restrictions put in place

Next Steps

There arent really next steps beyond ‘wait and see’. This post isn’t so much about a technology as it is about the drawbacks and expected reactions to any given smart technology that relies on unconsenting measurement of a city’s citizenry. Sample steps to look for would be:

-Watch development of opposition sentiment to smart cities

-Look for politicians to begin to stump about privacy in a digital age with a specific focus on cities

-Assess what policy impacts may be had, should they be enacted.

Comment on another post: ‘Introducing the Internet of Water’

This is an interesting idea: another thing to add is that this database would act as a sort of ‘clearing house’ for water demand, much like already exists in regional ISOs wholesale electricity markets. It could reduce waste by assessing anticipated regional demand for water and acting to ensure the demand is met (but not overmet).


Cloudy With a Chance of Pain

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 10.45.48 AM


Sustainability Problem:

Good health and well-being for all is goal #3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Technology will continue to play a greater role in tracking, preventing and curing diseases.  Understanding the correlations between environmental conditions and the effect on health can help to achieve this goal.


Cloudy with a Chance of Pain is a project sponsored by Arthritis Research UK that is collecting data to analyze correlations among weather and sources of chronic pain. Participants 17 and older living in the UK that have arthritis or other forms of chronic pain download app that tracks daily symptoms and the weather. The dataset is publicly available for research and the public is invited to submit ideas based on their data analysis.


  • Medical professionals
  • Patients
  • Scientists/Medical Researchers
  • App developers


  • Participants download the app and track their symptoms for 6 months
  • App will capture the weather data
  • Researchers and participants will have access to the data to detect patterns between symptoms and the weather

This specific app is focused on Arthritis Research in the UK but similar technology could be applied broadly to track and analyze correlations with weather/climate conditions and other health concerns, such as air quality and respiratory conditions.

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View of the data – allows you to drill down into a specific symptom to look for patterns