2 August 2018

[Report] Reclaiming the Smart City

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Reclaiming the Smart City: Personal Data, Trust and the New Commons
Why and how city governments are taking a more responsible approach to the collection and use of personal data
By Theo Bass, Emma Sutherland, and Tom Symons
Monday, 23 July 2018
Nesta UK
[pdf download]

This report is about why and how city governments are taking a more responsible approach to the use of personal data. It addresses some of the major flaws in how traditional smart city projects have approached data collection and use. It then provides a summary of policy roles available to local authorities to address these challenges.

The report is based on case study research of a range of pioneering examples of city governments around the world that are trying to rethink how they collect, analyse and use data collected about people, and concludes with a set of eight recommendations for how policymakers can build an alternative version to the smart city – one which promotes ethical data collection practices and responsible innovation with new technologies:

  1. Build consensus around clear ethical principles, and translate them into practical policies.
  2. Train public sector staff in how to assess the benefits and risks of smart technologies.
  3. Look outside the council for expertise and partnerships, including with other city governments.
  4. Find and articulate the benefits of privacy and digital ethics to multiple stakeholders.
  5. Become a test-bed for new services that give people more privacy and control.
  6. Make time and resources available for genuine public engagement on the use of surveillance technologies.
  7. Build digital literacy and make complex or opaque systems more understandable and accountable.
  8. Find opportunities to involve citizens in the process of data collection and analysis from start to finish.

This report is part of DECODE (DEcentralised Citizen Owned Data Ecosystems), a major EU Horizon 2020 project which is developing practical tools to give people control over how personal data is used, and the ability to share it on their terms.

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