Gaining Public Trust In Smart Cities With Data Transparency

The cities of Angers-Loire in France, the town of Innisfil in Canada, the city of Boston, and the District of Columbia are currently testing the open source Digital Trust for Places and Routines (DTPR) communication standard. DTPR is a collection of visual icons designed to provide more transparency about technology  – such as sensors and cameras – that is installed in public spaces. The goal of the pilots is to increase trust around smart city projects and give residents a new way to provide feedback.

Originally created by the now defunct Sidewalk Labs, DTPR is now run by the start-up, Helpful Places.

“Visual language has been shown to help democratize complex concepts – by making invisible systems visible, the DTPR standard can help give everyone an opportunity to participate in decision-making regarding the use of technologies in public spaces,” said Jackie Lu, President and Co-Founder of Helpful Places. “We’re excited to be working with four cities in three countries to get feedback from their residents and improve the DTPR standard.”

The signs inform people about what data the technology is collecting, who is collecting it, and what the data will be used for. People simply need to scan a QR code on a sign to learn about the technology, ask questions, and share their feedback. The cities involved will install the signage over the next several months, and inform and engage residents online and with in-person surveys. The pilots will last approximately four months.

Christophe Béchu, French Minister for Local Government, President of Angers Loire Métropole, said: “Angers Loire Métropole has launched a major smart city project that will use a wide range of digital tools to improve the efficiency of its public services in order to address the major issues facing our region: energy savings, water management, waste management, transportation, etc. We want this deployment to be accompanied by a high level of transparency for citizens. By participating in this international experiment, Angers will contribute to the development of a democratic tool that will be essential in many cities tomorrow.”