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The Coerced User and the Era of Smart City Dissonance

by Guy Cherni and Roee Bigger

Published onNov 06, 2019
The Coerced User and the Era of Smart City Dissonance


This paper discusses the societal impact of increased connectivity and innovation on the smart city’s inhabitants and its effect on the definition of usability. We start by discussing the smart city’s connectivity revolution and the way it affects the perception of usability. In so doing, we eliminate the concept of Non-Users and employ instead Coerced Users, who do not wish to use the innovation, but are coerced into participating—providing it with physical space and data—and therefore enjoying the services returned in the form of city optimization. We then discuss the need for new design approaches addressing these users that may be translated into innovation acceptance. We present a human-centered design study on the Coerced Users of shareable electric scooter services in Tel Aviv. It demonstrates the importance of Coerced User design and its impact on the inhabitants’ wellbeing. We found that the Coerced User’s rejection of innovation is due mostly to low-value technology implementation in the complex smart city structure, creating a feeling of injustice in public goods distribution and an ambiguous feeling of “Smart City Dissonance” that affects the inhabitants’ relationship with the public sphere.

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