Centre for Applied Research of the Faculty on Digital Media & Creative Industries

Human Values for Smarter Cities


Smart city technologies, including artificial intelligence and computer vision, promise to bring a higher quality of life and more efficient urban management to our cities.

However, developers, designers, and professionals working in urban management have started to realize that implementing these technologies poses numerous ethical challenges. Policy papers from city governments and institutions now call for human and public values in tech development1, ethics guidelines for trustworthy A.I.,2 and cities for digital rights3. In a democratic society, these technologies should also be understandable for citizens (transparency) and open for scrutiny and critique (accountability).

Professionals face numerous knowledge gaps and find it challenging to implement public values in smart city technologies. Public administrators and civil servants find it hard to translate abstract values like transparency into concrete specifications to design new services. In the private sector, developers and designers still lack a ‘design vocabulary’ and exemplary projects that can inspire them to respond to transparency and accountability demands. Finally, both the public and private sectors see a need to include the public in how these values are operationalized in designing smart city services but haven’t found the right methods.

This four-year project aims to help these professionals to develop an integrated, value-based design approach for smart city technologies’ ethical implementation by focusing on the concrete and urgent case of machine-vision in public space. It consists of three aspects. With civil servants at municipalities, we will create a language enabling them to translate public values such as transparency into concrete specifications. With designers, we will develop guidelines and principles to answer these value-based requirements. Finally, we will develop methods to engage civil society in this process with both groups of professionals.

Project Lead

AUAS - Civic Interaction Design

Financed by

RAAK-PRO - Regieorgaan SIA

Research Partners

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS), TU Delft.

Project Partners

Municipality of Amsterdam (CTO office), Municipality of Rotterdam, ARVOO Group, Tapp, UNSense, ThingsCon, Media Architecture Biennale.

21 July 2022

Project Info

Start date 06 Sep 2022
End date 30 Sep 2026