menu

Privacy Concerns in Smart Cities

December 07, 2016 by Liesbet van Zoonen

Access this Publication
In this paper a framework is constructed to hypothesize if and how smart city technologies and urban big data produce privacy concerns among the people in these cities (as inhabitants, workers, visitors, and otherwise). The framework is built on the basis of two recurring dimensions in research about people's concerns about privacy: one dimensions represents that people perceive particular data as more personal and sensitive than others, the other dimension represents that people's privacy concerns differ according to the purpose for which data is collected, with the contrast between service and surveillance purposes most paramount. These two dimensions produce a 2 × 2 framework that hypothesizes which technologies and data-applications in smart cities are likely to raise people's privacy concerns, distinguishing between raising hardly any concern (impersonal data, service purpose), to raising controversy (personal data, surveillance purpose). Specific examples from the city of Rotterdam are used to further explore and illustrate the academic and practical usefulness of the framework. It is argued that the general hypothesis of the framework offers clear directions for further empirical research and theory building about privacy concerns in smart cities, and that it provides a sensitizing instrument for local governments to identify the absence, presence, or emergence of privacy concerns among their citizens.