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Mobility-Enhancing ICT from an Ethical Perspective: The Case of a Navigation System for Visually Impaired Persons
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Transport Science, Traffic and Logistics.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to empirically investigate the case of visually impaired persons and the possible effects of a tailored pedestrian navigation system on their mobility.  Interview results indicate that with the provision of detailed information about the built environment and public transportation, positive potential effects include an increased ability to travel alone, to travel in unplanned and unfamiliar situations, and to prioritize public transportation use over the use of special transportation services.  In the broader sense, the system may also serve an integrity enhancing function by improving the possibility of leading an independent and autonomous life.  On the other hand, as with all ICT with positioning and monitoring capabilities, its use also poses ethical challenges and may negatively impact privacy.  Privacy perceptions are highly contextual, but the participants’ responses in this context do not indicate high levels of concern for data misuse or being tracked through their data.  This does not, however, translate into an absence of concern over technology’s potential negative impacts on personal integrity.  As the participants’ comments illustrate, ICT development does not necessarily result in ethically sound, universally accessible technology.  While the participants are generally optimistic about the possibilities of using ICT to enhance their mobility, they also emphasize that ICT is not the magic bullet. As such, this study serves to remind us that a coordinated effort on multiple fronts is vital in addressing users’ needs and meeting broader social goals such as social inclusion and the accessibility of transportation, technology, and information.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Washington, D.C., 2013.
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102325OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-102325DiVA: diva2:552334
Conference
92nd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board
Note

QC 20160502

Available from: 2012-09-13 Created: 2012-09-13 Last updated: 2016-05-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Impacts of Intelligent Transportation Systems on Users' Mobility:  A Case Study Analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Impacts of Intelligent Transportation Systems on Users' Mobility:  A Case Study Analysis
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

People have many reasons to be mobile, from day-to-day activities involving work, studies, and family, to maintaining participation in society, health, and quality of life. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly being deployed in the transportation context to improve individuals' mobility; for example via information provision. Advanced use of ICT in transportation is commonly referred to as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

Despite many opportunities for ITS services to enhance personal mobility, the collection and use of movement and activity data also poses challenges, as it facilitates easier access to more information for people to use, but about them as well. Knowledge about users' perceptions of advantages and disadvantages (for example assurance and privacy) associated with the use of ITS services is limited. Even less is known regarding to what degree their perceptions influence their acceptance of the services or their behavior.

The aim of this thesis project is to gather empirical interview and survey data from multiple user groups in order to learn more about the factors impacting users' attitudes towards ITS services. In exploring not only demographic factors, but also the potential positive and negative impacts from the users' perspective, this project attempts to paint a more holistic view of the issues surrounding the possibilities for ITS to enhance mobility.

From the two case studies presented in this thesis, results indicate that respondents are pro-technology and are not highly concerned about privacy in general, but other ethical issues serve to shed light on the situations of different user groups. In the first case study with visually impaired individuals, the ability to lead an autonomous and independent life is a strong driver for the acceptance of a pedestrian navigation system, which the users themselves would choose to use. While the participants are generally optimistic about the possibilities of using ITS to enhance their mobility, their comments illustrate that ICT development does not necessarily result in ethically sound, universally accessible technology, and that a coordinated effort on multiple fronts is vital in addressing users' needs and meeting broader social goals such as social inclusion and the accessibility of transportation, technology, and information.

In the second case study with professional heavy goods vehicle drivers and their employers, the drivers are in a dependent (employee) position and have less personal control over the use of ITS services in the vehicles. The employers are perceived as the greater beneficiaries of the services, which could be linked to the systematic lack of feedback to the drivers. Generally, the respondents trust the employers to protect the drivers' privacy. However, there also exist gaps in organizational communication regarding data gathering and handling practices as well as in expected versus stated behavior modification as a result of workplace monitoring. As employees are not normally able to provide informed consent due to their dependent position, recommendations for organizations include performing comprehensive impact assessments, engaging in an ongoing dialogue with employees, and providing an opt-out option in order to move towards a more informed consent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. ix, 10 p.
Series
Trita-TSC-LIC, ISSN 1653-445X ; 12:007
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102327 (URN)978-91-85539-93-2 (ISBN)
Presentation
2012-10-04, E53, Osquars backe 14, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
TrenOp, Transport Research Environment with Novel Perspectives
Note

QC 20120917

Available from: 2012-09-17 Created: 2012-09-13 Last updated: 2013-04-11Bibliographically approved
2. User Perspectives on Intelligent Transportation Systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>User Perspectives on Intelligent Transportation Systems
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), or the advanced use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the transportation context, offers new tools in the continual effort to develop an accessible, safe, and sustainable transportation system. In this thesis, focus is placed on ITS targeting individual use or the end users’ transportation experiences, e.g. video surveillance, cashless payments, pedestrian navigation, real-time information, emergency communications, and parking services. For the end user, such services can serve to enhance one’s sense of assurance by reducing uncertainty and facilitating planning and dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

However, ITS and the data collection and processing upon which it is built bring their own challenges, as personal data and privacy are fundamentally intertwined. Individuals’ data is routinely collected, from which one can infer a broad range of activities and lifestyle choices, and which may have implications over time or in other contexts. Perceptions of technology and data use are contextual; what may be considered acceptable or privacy-invasive in one situation and for one purpose may not hold true for other persons, situations, or purposes. Concerns often focus on aspects of anonymity, lack of knowledge or control, function creep, etc. Furthermore, although individual, end users are affected by policies and technologies guiding data collection and processing, they are rarely involved in decision-making processes, offered realistic alternatives, or able to control their own data.

The aim of this thesis is to investigate end users’ perceptions of ITS. As various contexts and factors have proven to influence perception in other research areas, the approach has been to use empirical case studies of different end user groups and ITS systems. Additionally, the case studies vary contexts and contrast potential negative consequences of ITS, such as privacy infringement, with potential positive benefits (which may depend on the circumstances of the particular user group and/or the ITS system), such as increased assurance and independence. Users are surveyed via structured interviews and questionnaires that include items addressing perceptions of benefits/risks, privacy, trust, etc. In investigating ITS from the users’ perspective, this research attempts to paint a more holistic view of the issues surrounding the use of ITS in our daily, mobile lives.

The broad-spectrum conclusions are that the respondents, in general, perceive ITS as relatively beneficial, more so on a general, social level, and feel more reassured due to the systems. Privacy concerns are generally not a major barrier for acceptance in the scenarios presented, although respondents do not necessarily express high levels of trust for the data collectors or low levels of risk for data misuse. Results show that perceptions are influenced by a number of factors, such as: the targeted beneficiary; addressing a specific, personal need; perceived personal control of a situation; the actor (data collector); status within the organization; gender and parenthood. There are also indications that end users feel a sense of resignation due to lack of choice, control, or perceived influence. For example, there is no strong interest in discussing technological applications with companies, government agencies, or elected representatives, nor in searching for information about technological applications irrespective of perceived privacy infringement or acceptability. This may have broader implications, e.g. for decision-making and democratic processes, as perceived lack of influence and perceived lack of interest in participation feed back into each other.

As such, recommendations include informed consent, choice (e.g. opt-in/opt-out), control over one’s personal data, ongoing, two-way dialogue between stakeholders (from the beginning of the design process), comprehensive technological assessments, as well as following through on the use of Fair Information Practices/Principles such as limitation of data collection and use, purpose specification, transparency, individual participation, etc. ITS and data collection and processing are not “silver bullets” able solve all problems via “complete and perfect” information. They are additional tools in the toolbox that bring with them their own challenges related to issues such as privacy, lack of choice/control, and technological accessibility. Thus, efforts should be made to address these new challenges, such as technological mechanisms, personal actions and user participation, and proactive organizational policy and public legislation. The research presented in this thesis serves to remind us that a coordinated effort on multiple fronts is vital in addressing users’ needs and meeting broader social goals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. xii, 30 p.
Series
Trita-TSC-PHD, 13:001
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-122209 (URN)978-91-87353-02-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-31, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20130515

Available from: 2013-05-15 Created: 2013-05-14 Last updated: 2013-05-15Bibliographically approved

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