Safeguarding long-term stakeholdership in Smart Cities


Since the 90s ideas about society are interwoven with expectations of the possibilities of the Internet. For example, it was expected that the Internet would turn the world into a "global village" in which we would effectively deal with problems such as global warming, economic crises, war and poverty. Those expectations have since co-evolved with the developments in the field of information technology and society. Because in the future the majority of the world's population will live in cities, the challenge now is to make these cities ?smart? through the ubiquitous use of information technology. In the Smart City small computers embedded in streets, houses, cars, clothes and even bodies of city dwellers, collect data on traffic, buying behavior, energy consumption, and so on. By linking all this information and by using it to develop all sorts of applications, automatically the city would become a great, efficient, organized and streamlined, comfortable living environment.
Currently, many companies are developing together with governments and citizens products and services in this area, and citizens often collaborate enthusiastically. A better world, who would object to that? But the path turns out to be prickly. Abuse or commercial appropriation of the information collected is lurking, and citizens turn our to have little understanding of what is being done by whom with the information they helped provide. News about these practices has by now resulted in improductive distrust between citizens, governments and businesses.
In this project we develop ethical frameworks for the transparant cooperation between companies, governments and citizens, so that the resulting socio-technical arrangements will be considered as legitimate by all stakeholders. We also work with engineers to anchor important ethical values like privacy, participation, property rights, distributive justice, and the right not to participate in the technological designs themselves. And we present novel ways of engaging more people to partake in the reflection on their own digital environment. An important principle is that citizens, governments and businesses should be able to codesign the Smart City on an equal footing. That is not a matter of an occasional public consultation , but requires organizing continuous commitment. After all, technology never stands still. Therefore, we also develop an 'app' that allows citizens to see on what ethical considerations, the system is based, and how they can have a say when the system evolves further.





Prof. dr. T.E. Swierstra

Verbonden aan

Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Philosophy


Dr. M.E. Noorman, Prof. dr. T.E. Swierstra, Dr. J.L. Uitermark, Dr. A.D. Zandbergen


01/06/2015 tot 31/08/2018