Smart Devices, Smart Cities, and Human-Centered Design

Gatti, Grayson, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Gorman, Michael, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

With both the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology on the rise, certain concerns arise surrounding these technologies. Some of these concerns include the privacy of the data these devices generate, the equity surrounding these devices, and data capacity concerns for the future of these fields. From this, we as designers and engineers must be creative in the way we design these technologies so that these fields continue to advance. While there may be many ways to solve these issues, the currently available solutions are incomplete and require additional expertise. Some of the solutions I suggest in the research paper include a utilitarian approach as well a human-centered design (HCD) approach. This paper uses the Ethics and Actor Network Theory frameworks in order to evaluate the descriptive scenario of smart devices and cities in order to layout a foundation for the discussion of possible normative scenarios for these fields. Overall, these issues are difficult solve, and while this paper doesn’t suggest a complete solution, it does suggest steps toward the right direction.

The idea for this research began with a technical project for developing flood monitoring and mitigation solutions for the city of Charlottesville. During the initial research for this project, it was discovered that most of the city’s stormwater issues exist on private/residential property and a social barrier exist between the city’s residents and the city’s stormwater and utilities. Therefore, if a monitoring and mitigation strategy were to be developed, the ethical impacts that the strategy creates would need to be heavily considered prior to the device’s deployment and I decided to research the Internet of Things and smart devices. Initially, I discussed the idea of “trust” that I find surrounding many of the devices used today. In short, the users trust the designers to create device that meets the user’s needs and the designers trust the users to use the device in ways that the device is meant to be used. While there is merit to this initial discussion,there is additional value in discussing the specific concerns surrounding these technologies rather than representing these concerns with something as vague as trust.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Smart Devices, Smart Technology, Smart Cities, Actor Network Theory, Ethics, Human-Centered Design (HCD)

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Systems and Information Engineering
Technical Advisor: Jon Goodall
STS Advisor: Michael Gorman
Technical Team Members: Pat Finley, Mac Nelson, Kiri Nicholson, and Kruti Shah

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