Exploring participatory visions of smart transport in Milton Keynes

Valdez Juarez, Alan-Miguel; Cook, Matthew; Potter, Stephen and Langendahl, Per-Anders (2018). Exploring participatory visions of smart transport in Milton Keynes. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability, 171(4) pp. 204–210.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1680/jensu.15.00020


This paper explores citizen concerns emerging in the design stage of MotionMap, a smart transport initiative developed in the context of a £16 million smart city programme. A city-wide sensing system integrated with other databases will provide real-time information about vehicular and pedestrian movement. The experience of a series of smart transport workshops in Milton Keynes suggests that citizens feel that they bear the cost of smart cities through potentially intrusive surveillance producing sacrifices in convenience and privacy, while the gains are captured by industrial and governmental actors. This distrust of surveillance through urban sensing systems is not inflexible. Such systems can gain legitimacy through a participatory approach where users legitimize the sensing system by taking an active role in providing transport data, as opposed to having it ‘harvested’ from them through passive or opportunistic mechanisms. Participatory approaches are challenging because users will engage only if the system can provide compelling benefits. A key contribution of this research comes from identifying that the benefits important to citizens are not necessarily measured in economic terms nor in terms of increased efficiency.

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