Smart Cities Privacy & Equity

Smart Cities Privacy & Equity, How communities can manage the risks posed by “smart” technologies.

Course Description

This course is intended to empower communities to create transparent, equitable, and inclusive processes for assessing smart city technologies and to train students across disciplines to understand the risks these tools pose and how their expertise can help ensure smart technologies serve the public good.

Smart city planning processes often fail to incorporate systematic methods to address privacy and equity concerns by engaging affected communities and ensuring equitable access to their benefits. Most communities lack explicit policies requiring review of law enforcement decisions to acquire and use surveillance technologies, which are disproportionately deployed against marginalized communities. In this course, students will learn how a growing number of communities have passed local laws and developed innovative processes for identifying and mitigating these risks.

After surveying the history of these efforts, the course compares and contrasts the programs created by three communities: the City of Oakland, CA, Santa Clara County, CA, and the City of Seattle, WA. Students then learn about some of the most commonly used surveillance technologies. Following a summary of how these programs relate to the broader field of information privacy and privacy impact assessments in the private sector, students walk through in detail the process the City of Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission used to evaluate Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRS). The course closes with a reflection on how these communities are changing how we approach data privacy in the U.S. and ways that students can address these risks in their own communities.

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