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Open AccessArticle

Volunteers in the Smart City: Comparison of Contribution Strategies on Human-Centered Measures

Chair of Computational Social Science, ETH Zürich, Clausiusstrasse 50, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland
School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
Interactive Intelligence Group, TU Delft, Mekelweg 4, 2628 Delft, The Netherlands
LIACS, Leiden University, Niels-Bohr-Weg 1, 2333 CA Leiden, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2018, 18(11), 3707;
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 20 October 2018 / Accepted: 26 October 2018 / Published: 31 October 2018
PDF [753 KB, uploaded 31 October 2018]


Provision of smart city services often relies on users contribution, e.g., of data, which can be costly for the users in terms of privacy. Privacy risks, as well as unfair distribution of benefits to the users, should be minimized as they undermine user participation, which is crucial for the success of smart city applications. This paper investigates privacy, fairness, and social welfare in smart city applications by means of computer simulations grounded on real-world data, i.e., smart meter readings and participatory sensing. We generalize the use of public good theory as a model for resource management in smart city applications, by proposing a design principle that is applicable across application scenarios, where provision of a service depends on user contributions. We verify its applicability by showing its implementation in two scenarios: smart grid and traffic congestion information system. Following this design principle, we evaluate different classes of algorithms for resource management, with respect to human-centered measures, i.e., privacy, fairness and social welfare, and identify algorithm-specific trade-offs that are scenario independent. These results could be of interest to smart city application designers to choose a suitable algorithm given a scenario-specific set of requirements, and to users to choose a service based on an algorithm that matches their privacy preferences. View Full-Text
Keywords: participatory sensing; smart cities; public good; privacy; fairness participatory sensing; smart cities; public good; privacy; fairness

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Bennati, S.; Dusparic, I.; Shinde, R.; Jonker, C.M. Volunteers in the Smart City: Comparison of Contribution Strategies on Human-Centered Measures. Sensors 2018, 18, 3707.

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