Skip to main content
SearchLoginLogin or Signup

Using Technology Democratically: Development of a Self-Assessment Tool to Support Urban Security Authorities

Published onMar 08, 2024
Using Technology Democratically: Development of a Self-Assessment Tool to Support Urban Security Authorities


Local security authorities are using innovative technologies (including drones, CCTV, biometric sensors, predictive algorithmic tools, etc.) to protect their communities. In major European cities and other urban contexts, their use is becoming more common, while at the same time many new ethical, legal, and social issues are emerging. Given the conceptual and technical complexity of these issues, there is a significant risk that the undemocratic use of these innovative technologies by local authorities may adversely affect citizens' civil rights and liberties. A key objective of this paper is to address the conceptual and applied gaps associated with the use of innovative technologies to enhance urban security in terms of ethical, legal, and social implications. This overall objective has been achieved through the development of an open-source self-assessment tool which will allow local security authorities to analyse their specific technology use cases and help them make critical decisions. The democratic use of innovative technologies for urban security (DUTUS) is defined as a set of practices that simultaneously meet the following three interrelated requirements: (1) legal compliance, (2) ethical commitment, and (3) positive social impact. Finally, it identifies some of the key structural, methodological, and practical challenges of the tool and how they can be addressed by end-users.

Keywords: Innovative technologies; Urban security; Democratic use; Self-assessment tool; Urban authorities.

1. Introduction

The rapid expansion of cities and their population density has brought with it a series of challenges of all kinds, such as issues related to energy, mobility, social conflicts, the management of natural disasters and their consequences or, of course, those related to security and crime prevention (Laufs et al, 2020; Gallardo-Amores et al., 2022; Han & Hawken, 2018; Kummitha & Crutzen, 2017). Challenges that, on the other hand, are predicted to increase as the urban population is expected to continue growing in the coming decades (Zhang et al., 2017). According to the United Nations (2018), "55% of the world's population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050".

Thus, demographic challenges and rapid urbanisation call for smart management of urban community challenges (Kummitha, 2019) and increased urban resilience (White, 2016). One way to address these is to introduce new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in urban infrastructure, governance, and services (Zhu et al., 2019; Sankar et al., 2023), under the concept of "Smart City" (Albino et al., 2015). While there is considerable variation in the introduction of technological elements in cities to make them more efficient and rational (Berry, 2018), the fact is that elements related to security and crime prevention have received less attention (Laufs et al., 2020; Gallardo-Amores et al., 2022) than those dealing with issues such as smart mobility, smart waste management, road traffic management, etc. (Benevolo et al., 2016). However, no one would doubt that security and crime prevention in urban spaces is a key element for safe societies and, moreover, it is a societal challenge recognised by the European Union (EU) itself through EU Research and the funding of projects such as IcARUS, SECU4ALL, APPRAISE, IMPETUS, UIA, CITYkeys project, among others. And this element of security and crime prevention does not only refer to objective data (e.g. the containment of antisocial, infringing and criminal behaviour or its consequences), but also to the perception that citizens have of the safety of the cities in which they live (Chiodi, 2016; Crowe & Fenelly, 2013; Ceccato & Nalla, 2020), since the feeling of danger in the place of residence can lead people to decide to move (Kourtit et al., 2019).

Although there is a multitude of definitions to describe and apprehend what the concept of "Smart City" implies (Ramaprasad et al., 2017), one of those that perhaps best fits the issues related to security and crime prevention according to Laufs et al. (2020) is the one offered by Elmaghraby and Lovasio (2014). These authors explain that a Smart City is a city that uses "information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, independently shares information within the system, and improves overall effectiveness of services and the wellbeing of citizens". More specifically, and as has been argued in previous works, "smart cities security would consist, in broad terms, in the organization of disorderly urbanizations, in safer cities through the implementation of hyperconnected sensor networks and security systems, the management of accidents, breakdowns or critical situations through police, medical and logistics coordination of rescue (among other factors) or computer security and protection of large masses of data" (Vivo-Delgado and Castro-Toledo, 2020). Therefore, a smart city in terms of security includes the protection of citizens through information systems and technologies that seek to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the management of crime and terror, as well as ensuring a rapid response of law enforcement and emergency bodies and forces (Hartama et al., 2017). To achieve this security, different cities have been implementing a variety of devices and technologies that are difficult to list due to their variety, but as described by Laufs et al. (2020), most smart city architectures have three layers: "a sensor layer, a network processing layer, and service or actuator layer". Within the first would include elements such as RFID sensors, CCTV cameras, facial recognition cameras, microphones, etc. (see Catllett et al., 2019); within the second Laufs et al. (2020) identify transmission technologies (see Zhao et al., 2018); and, with respect to the third, these authors include the "retractable barricade", police response or traffic lights (see Welsh et al., 2010).

In any case, all these devices and technologies that are integrated into the urban architecture, governance and services of cities are implemented under a very clear justification: to improve the quality of life of citizens (Bak1c1 et al., 2013), and it is understood that the prevention of deviant behaviors and the creation of safe spaces is necessarily improving this quality (Tutak & Brodny, 2023). This is not something new but would respond in part to a consolidated criminological approach such as crime prevention through urban design (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design [Cozens & Love, 2015; Sanjuan & Vozmediano, 2020; Catlett et al., 2019]) and in which, now, information and communication technologies would become an element of such an approach (Chiodi, 2016). Yet, this positive side of the integration of technology in urban designs should not be accepted uncritically, since the same should be evaluated from different perspectives, some of which go unnoticed in the analysis that is carried out both institutionally and academically (Kitchin & Dodge, 2019). Namely, these tools should comply with legal standards set by the corresponding national and/or European and international legislation where appropriate; but they should also aspire to ensure that their implementation and use meet minimum ethical standards and, equally, that the social impact that these elements have is as positive as possible.

In other words: the implementation of smart security and prevention elements in urban areas must find its justification in improving the quality of life of citizens, but this justification must be reinforced and, if necessary, limited by a series of ethical and democratic principles that are aligned with the values of consolidated democracies (Bloch-Wehba, 2021). These principles should also be observed from the design stage for two reasons: first, because not only the possible benefits derived from the integration of these elements in the architecture, governance and urban services should be assessed, but also the possible conflicts with their democratic use, and this assessment can only be made from the design stage if such conflicts are to be avoided, without prejudice to the corresponding monitoring to control continuous compliance over time; second, because these devices and technologies can also have negative consequences equal to those existing prior to their implementation or new externalities (e.g., the replication of inequalities and discrimination of certain groups, the creation of other security risks and vulnerabilities, etc. (Kitchin & Dodge, 2020; Datta, 2015).

Despite the relevance of studying not only which technological tools can help security and crime prevention, but which ones should be implemented and how based on legal, ethical and democratic principles, there is practically no structured and systematized literature and normative reflection on the subject. Possibly because the literature on Smart Cities has focused on areas of application other than security and crime prevention (Gallardo-Amores et al., 2022) for which it is developing at a later stage. There is, however, some literature that warns of some challenges that smart security must necessarily consider, mostly related to privacy issues or some aspects of the social impact of these technologies. Thus, in the systematic review carried out by Gupta et al. (2019) on the main research topics around Smart Cities in general they find that the following are predominant: 1. Innovation and technology (Aina 2017; Bresciani et al., 2017); 2. Citizen's engagement in design and development (Mueller et al., 2018; Abella et al., 2017); 3. Governance and policy (Wu et al., 2018; Bifulco et al., 2017); 4. Service design and management (Bell et al., 2018; Valdez et al., 2018); 5. Implementation Barriers (Alizadeh, 2017; Frith, 2017); 6. Social Impact (Beretta, 2018; Picatoste et al., 2017); 7. Performance indicators and standards (Anthopoulos, 2017; Ahvenniemi et al., 2017); and, 8. Smart City strategy (Kolotouchkina & Seisdedos, 2018; Grimaldi & Fernandez, 2017).

Several other pertinent issues have received particular attention. First, the issue of privacy (Ismagilova et al., 2022; Heek et al., 2016) has been highlighted. The introduction of advanced surveillance tools and extensive data collection practices poses a significant threat to individual privacy, often without explicit consent or awareness. This encroachment has sparked a discourse on the balance between maintaining public safety and preserving individual privacy rights. Emphasis has been placed on the need for robust regulation and oversight to prevent undue invasions of privacy in the pursuit of security (Ardabili et al., 2022). Second, concerns about the misuse of AI by law enforcement (Castro-Toledo, 2022; Castro-Toledo et al., 2023) pose another critical challenge alongside bias and discrimination, particularly evident in technologies such as facial recognition and predictive policing. Without careful design and regulation, these technologies risk perpetuating societal biases and disproportionately impacting certain demographic groups (Cerezo et al., 2022). An unwavering commitment to the equitable design and use of such technologies is essential to maintaining public trust and promoting respect for democratic principles. Third, the concept of e-participation (Bastos et al., 2022) could be applied to the democratic integration of technology in urban security, which requires open dialogue and transparency with the community. Recent works highlight the importance of security agencies engaging in dialogue with the public about the technologies they use, their objectives, and the measures they take to protect individual rights and privacy (Slobogin & Brayne, 2023). Public participation and oversight play an indispensable role in shaping the trajectory of technology in urban security. Finally, in terms of governance (Ruhlandt, 2018), the need for continuous monitoring and evaluation cannot be overstated. As technology advances, the policies and protocols that govern its use must adapt accordingly. Consistent review and reassessment of these technologies is essential to address emerging challenges and ensure alignment with democratic principles.

However, to the best of our knowledge, to date, no consistent, comprehensive, and decision-improving body of specialised literature has been integrated on all the legal, ethical, and democratic principles that should follow the implementation of these systems. In this sense, (1) because of the relevance of these technological tools to improve the quality of life in urban areas, especially when applied to maintain a sense of security and crime prevention; (2) because of the fact that such incorporation is practically inevitable and they are tools that can be very useful for the ultimate purpose of prevention; (3) but above all because of the impact they can have on the regulatory system in which they are inserted, it is necessary to develop tools that allow public policy makers to determine the democratic use of this type of technology, based on compliance with minimum standards. In the absence of such indicators, the main objective of the present work has been to develop a tool for evaluating the democratic use of technologies whose purpose is to be incorporated into urban architectures, governance, and services to contribute to security and crime prevention.

2. An Integrative Approach to the Democratic Use of Innovative Technologies for the Urban Security (DUTUS)

2.1 Towards a democratic use of technology in urban security: framing DUTUS Tool

It is important to note that 'democratic use of technology' and 'democratisation of technology' are different phenomena. More recently, the "democratisation of technology" refers to the process by which access to technology becomes more widely available to the general population, enabling wider participation in economic, social, and political life through technological means. Digitalisation is seen as a transformative force that can democratise access to information and services, contribute to sustainable development and address global challenges (Berg and Hofmann, 2021; Mondejar et al., 2021). On the other hand, the impact of digitalisation on structural change in economies suggests that it can drive economic prosperity and employment shifts, although its benefits may not be evenly distributed between developed and developing countries (Balogun et al., 2020). Finally, the use of information and communication technologies in political systems raises questions about the democratic validity of these tools, due to challenges such as misinformation and the legitimacy of digital voting systems (Chen et al., 2020). In summary, the democratisation of technology involves the widespread diffusion and integration of digital tools across different sectors, potentially leading to more equitable access to information and services, improved efficiency, and increased participation in democratic processes.

However, despite the great interest of the democratization of technologies and its close connection to the topic of this paper, we will focus here on identifying the parameters of the 'democratic use' of technology by urban authorities. It has been already suggested above that a failure to thoroughly consider the complex conceptual and technical aspects of emerging security challenges poses a significant risk of undemocratic use of technology by local security authorities, who have privileged access to extensive and highly sensitive technological resources. This negligence has potentially negative implications for citizens' well-being. Consequently, a structured and methodical approach is essential to address these multifaceted challenges. The following sections present frameworks such as the Democratic Use of Technology in Urban Security (DUTUS) tool, which provides a holistic, integrative, and evidence-based oriented methodology for assessing the legal, ethical, and social implications of security technologies. These guidelines are strategically designed to bridge the existing conceptual and practical gap in understanding the ethical, legal and social implications of using innovative technologies to enhance urban security. To achieve this broad objective, a carefully designed, open-access self-assessment tool has been developed, tailored to help local authorities conduct an in-depth analysis of their particular technology deployments, thus supporting their decision-making processes to be both well-informed and in line with democratic values.

2.2 DUTUS tool structure description

The DUTUS tool employs a multi-dimensional approach to ensure that the adoption of security technologies makes a positive contribution to the democratic development of urban spaces. This approach is based on the premise that the evaluation of practices related to the democratic use of innovative urban security technologies involves three interconnected and distinct dimensions: 1) compliance with legal standards (Legal fit), 2) a commitment to ethical principles (Ethics commitment), and 3) the generation of positive social impacts (Positive social impact). Within each of these dimensions, there are various critical aspects that play a pivotal role in ensuring that technology is deployed in a manner that aligns with democratic values. Through a comprehensive analysis of these dimensions, local security authorities can implement best practices that not only harness innovative technologies for urban security but also do so in a manner that is both legally valid and ethically responsible, ultimately leading to social benefits. These dimensions and their subdimensions (and self-assessment items and scope) are described in more detail below:

Table 1. Summary of DUTUS tool structure



n Items

Legal Fit



Necessity and Proportionality


Fundamental rights and civil liberties


Ethical Commitment



Societal and environmental well-being






Human agency


Positive Social Impact

Citizen’s participation


Independent oversight


Fear of crime and insecurity perception


Crime rate and compliance of standards


Legitimacy of the authorities


Economic cost of crime


Total items



  1. ‘Legal Fit’ (LF) examines the alignment of the technology use with existing legal frameworks and regulations. It includes a comprehensive assessment of how the technology complies with local, national, and international laws. The assessment under this dimension ensures that the use of the technology does not violate the law and is consistent with the rule of law. It also considers the adaptability of legal frameworks in response to the evolving nature of technological advances, thereby maintaining a balance between innovation and legal compliance.

    1. Legality (LF1-3): this area involves ensuring that the use of technology strictly adheres to existing legal frameworks, mainly national and international. It examines whether the technology is being used within the regulatory framework (EFUS, 2017).

    2. Necessity and proportionality (LF4-8): this subdimension assesses whether the use of the technology is essential for the intended security purpose and whether the extent of its use is proportionate to the security needs (EFUS, 2017).

    3. Fundamental rights and civil liberties (LF9-12): critical to this dimension is the protection of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. It examines the impact of the technology on privacy, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights, and ensures that these are not unjustifiably compromised (Koops, 2009; Završnik, 2020).

Table 2. Summary of “Legal Fit” dimension


Item (LF)



(1) Regulatory framework compliance: is there a comprehensive regulatory framework (international, supranational, or national) that sanctions the use of your intended technology?

(1) Existence of a defined regulatory framework (international, supranational, or national) for technology use.

(2) Harmonization with local regulations: has the technology's intended use been aligned and harmonized with relevant local laws and regulations?

(2) Alignment of technology use with local laws and regulations (if applicable).

(3) Worker protection considerations: have worker protection regulations been factored into the actual implementation of the technology?

(3) Consideration of worker protection regulations in technology deployment.

Necessity and proportionality

(4) Problem diagnosis audit: have you conducted an audit or diagnostic assessment to fully understand the underlying problem addressed by the technology?

(4) Conduct of an audit or diagnostic to understand the problem.

(5) Evaluation of less intrusive alternatives: were less invasive and less harmful technological options thoroughly evaluated before deciding on this technology?

(5) Assessment of less intrusive and harmful technological alternatives.

(6) Clarity of purpose: are the purposes of the technology's intended use explicitly and clearly defined?

(6) Clear definition of objectives for technology use.

(7) Timeframe limitation: is the use of the technology intended to be restricted to a specific timeframe?

(7) Time limitation for the deployment of technology.

(8) Location-specific use: is there a provision to limit the use of the technology to certain locations?

(8) Geographical limitation for the use of technology.

Civil rights and fundamental rights

(9) Data protection compliance: has the intended use of the technology been positively assessed for compliance with applicable data protection regulations (such as gdpr or national adaptations)?

(9) Compliance assessment with data protection regulations (e.g., gdpr).

(10) Mitigation of discriminatory bias: have measures been implemented to reduce or mitigate potential discriminatory biases (like racial, gender, ethnic biases) associated with the technology's use?

(10) Measures to reduce discriminatory biases (racial, gender, ethnic) in technology use.

(11) Impact on vulnerable populations: have actions been taken to lessen or mitigate the direct impact on vulnerable or at-risk populations due to the technology's use?

(11) Mitigation of impacts on vulnerable or at-risk populations.

(12) Safeguarding fundamental rights: have steps been undertaken to minimize and counteract any potential discouragement of local people from exercising their fundamental rights (such as assembly, demonstration, free movement, freedom of expression)?

(12) Efforts to prevent deterrence of fundamental rights exercise by local residents.

  1. ‘Ethical Commitment’ (EC) addresses the moral aspects of technology use. This dimension involves evaluating the technology against established ethical standards and principles such as fairness, non-discrimination, transparency, and accountability. It also includes consideration of the moral implications in scenarios where the technology may have a disproportionate impact on certain groups. The core purpose of this assessment is to ensure that the technology is used in a manner that is ethically justifiable and respects the inherent dignity and rights of all individuals. By focusing on ethical commitment, it is aimed to foster trust and maintain public confidence in the use of these technologies for urban security.

    1. Accountability (EC1-2): this area emphasises the importance of holding authorities and operators of security technologies accountable for their actions and decisions (Maguire, 2000).

    2. Societal and environmental wellbeing (EC3-4): encompasses the imperative of evaluating technology's sustainability and its ecological impact in a favorable light. This entails assessing how technology contributes to the overall welfare of society while also considering its environmental friendliness (Trencher & Karvonen, 2019).

    3. Safety (EC5-8): ensuring the safety and reliability of the technology in question, minimising potential harm to individuals or groups (European Commission, 2020).

    4. Transparency (EC9-11): this includes clear communication about the use, capabilities, and limitations of the technology, allowing for public understanding and scrutiny (Moses & Chan, 2016).

    5. Human agency (EC12-13): maintaining human oversight and decision-making in the use of technology, ensuring that automated systems do not operate without human intervention or supervision (European Commision, 2020).

Table 3. Summary of “Ethics Commitment” dimension


Item (EC)



(1) Public understanding of technology: are there effective mechanisms in place to ensure citizens fully comprehend the objectives, scope, and management of the technology's use?

(1) Adequate public mechanisms for citizens to understand objectives, scope, and public management of technology

(2) Privacy in public spaces: does the use of technology in public areas not only meet but potentially exceed citizens' privacy expectations, going beyond GDPR standards?

(2) Preservation of citizens' privacy in public spaces

Societal and environmental well-being

(3) Sustainability verification: has the sustainability of the technology's intended use been affirmatively verified?

(3) Positive assessment of technology's sustainability.

(4) Environmental friendliness: has the technology been evaluated and confirmed as environmentally friendly in its intended application?

(4) Positive assessment of technology's environmental friendliness.


(5) Accuracy and precision: is the technology’s application characterized by high levels of accuracy and precision?

(5) Accuracy of the technology's intended use.

(6) Reliability: can the technology be consistently relied upon for its intended application?

(6) Reliability of the technology's intended use.

(7) Safety assurance: is the intended use of the technology proven to be safe across all its applications?

(7) Safety of the technology's intended use.

(8) Robustness and resilience: does the technology exhibit robustness and resilience throughout its operations?

(8) Robustness of the technology's intended use.


(9) Traceability and accountability: is the technology’s application both traceable and accountable?

(9) Traceability of the technology's intended use.

(10) Explainability: can the use and functionality of the technology be easily explained and understood?

(10) Explainability of the technology's intended use.

(11) Communicability to stakeholders: is the intended use of the technology easily communicable and understandable to stakeholders?

(11) Communicability of the technology's intended use.

Human agency

(12) Enhancement of citizen autonomy: has the technology’s use been assessed to significantly improve the autonomy of the affected citizens?

(12) Positive assessment of the technology in improving citizen autonomy.

(13) Stakeholder monitoring mechanisms: are there established mechanisms for stakeholders to effectively monitor the technology’s intended use?

(13) Mechanisms for stakeholder monitoring of the technology's use.

  1. ‘Positive Social Impact’ (PSI) focuses on the ability of technology to contribute constructively to society. This includes assessing the potential of the technology to enhance public safety, quality of life and community wellbeing. It also includes assessing whether the technology can address specific social challenges or vulnerabilities in urban environments. The focus is not only on mitigating potential harm, but also on actively promoting benefits that are consistent with societal values and contribute to the overall betterment of the community.

    1. Citizen Participation (PSI1-2): encouraging active participation and input from citizens in the deployment and oversight of security technologies (Bouzguenda et al., 2019; Torfing, Krogh & Ejrnæs, 2020)

    2. Independent oversight (PSI3): establishing mechanisms for independent monitoring and evaluation of the use of technology to ensure that it meets ethical and legal standards (Ismagilova et al., 2019).

    3. Fear of crime and perceptions of insecurity (PSI4-7): assessing the impact of technology on public perceptions of safety and fear of crime, with the aim of improving citizens' sense of security (Castro-Toledo, 2019, Lorenc et al., 2012).

    4. Crime rates and compliance (PSI8-11): assessing the effectiveness of technology in reducing crime rates and improving compliance with the law (Gómez-Bellvís, 2021).

    5. Legitimacy of authorities (PSI12-15): ensuring that the use of technology enhances public trust and perceptions of legitimacy in law enforcement and security agencies (Jones, 2012).

    6. Economic costs of crime (PSI16-18): considering the impact of technology in reducing the economic costs associated with crime and its prevention, thereby benefiting society as a whole (Wickramasekera et al., 2010).

Table 4. Summary of “Positive Social Impact” dimension


Item (PSI)


Citizen participation

(1) Citizen consultation process: have there been comprehensive citizen consultations before implementing the crime prevention technology, including discussions on locations, situations, and types of tools?

(1) Execution of citizen consultation processes before implementing crime prevention technology

(2) Citizen input benefit: has the deployment of the technology been enhanced by incorporating feedback from citizens?

(2) Incorporation of citizen input into the technology's intended use.

Independent audit and control

(3) Independent audit mechanisms: are there established independent audits to evaluate both the design and ongoing monitoring of the technology’s use?

(3) Establishment of independent audit mechanisms for evaluating the design and monitoring of the technology's intended use.

Fear of crime and perceptions of insecurity

(4) Reduction of fear of crime: is there recent evidence showing a decrease in the fear of crime due to a similar application of this technology?

(4) Recent empirical evidence showing reduced fear of crime with similar technology use.

(5) Assessment of fear reduction: has it been confirmed through positive outcomes that the technology will diminish existing levels of fear of crime?

(5) Positive assessment of technology in reducing fear of crime.

(6) Reduction in perceptions of insecurity: is there evidence indicating a decrease in perceived insecurity following similar technological implementations?

(6) Recent empirical evidence indicating lower perceptions of insecurity with similar technology use.

(7) Correlation between crime rates and perceived insecurity: has a positive relationship been established between local crime rates and levels of perceived insecurity?

(7) Positive correlation between crime rates and perceived insecurity locally.

Crime rates and compliance of standards

(8) Impact on crime rates: does recent evidence suggest that similar technology use has contributed to lower crime rates?

(8) Recent empirical evidence suggesting lower crime rates with similar technology use.

(9) Local crime rate reduction: has an evaluation confirmed that similar use of this technology will likely reduce crime rates in your area?

(9) Positive assessment of similar technology use in reducing local crime rates.

(10) Contribution to compliance with standards: is there evidence that similar technology use has led to increased compliance with standards among citizens?

(10) Evidence indicating increased citizens’ compliance with standards through similar technology use.

(11) Improvement in citizens' compliance: has the potential of this technology to enhance citizens' compliance with standards been positively assessed?

(11) Positive assessment of similar technology use in enhancing citizens’ compliance with standards.

Legitimacy of authorities

(12) Trust in local security authorities: has the use of this technology been shown to potentially increase citizens’ trust in local security authorities?

(12) Positive assessment of technology in increasing trust in local security authorities.

(13) Improvement in treatment of citizens: is it assessed that the technology will improve how local security authorities interact with citizens?

(13) Positive assessment of technology in improving previous citizen treatment by local security authorities.

(14) Enhancement of legal guarantees: could the technology's use improve the legal protections afforded to citizens against local security authorities?

(14) Positive assessment of technology in enhancing legal guarantees against local security authorities.

(15) Acceptance by citizens: has the intended use of the technology been broadly accepted by the community?

(15) Wide acceptance of technology use by citizens.

Economic cost of crime control and prevention

(16) Evaluation of cost-effective alternatives: have more affordable technological or non-technological options been considered for their effectiveness compared to the proposed technology?

(16) Evaluation of less costly alternatives (technological or non-technological) in terms of effectiveness before using intended technology.

(17) Proportionality of investment to crime rate: has it been evaluated whether the investment in this technology is proportionate to the local crime rate?

(17) Positive assessment of proportionality between resources invested in technology for crime prevention and local crime rate.

(18) Effectiveness and efficiency of local authorities: has the technology been assessed to potentially increase the effectiveness and efficiency of local security authorities?

(18) Positive assessment of technology in improving effectiveness and efficiency of local security authorities.

2.3 DUTUS tool implementation methodology

The DUTUS tool is an open-access, multidimensional evaluation mechanism designed to assist local safety authorities in their strategic decision-making regarding the implementation or monitoring of innovative technologies to improve urban safety. This detailed self-assessment tool, anchored in a use case self-reporting methodology, unfolds in the following five sequential phases:

  1. Constitution of the Multidisciplinary Working Group: the assessment is conducted by a team comprising diverse expertise essential for local security. Members include technology designers/developers, data scientists, procurement specialists, front-line personnel interacting with the technology, and legal or compliance officers. It is mandatory that these individuals have an in-depth understanding of the specific technologies use case under review.

  2. Description of the Technological Use Case: the working group applies DUTUS to a specifically chosen technological use case. This use case starts with a clear and descriptive title, contextual background, and a comprehensive overview of the urban security challenge being tackled. It encompasses defined objectives, participant roles, process flow, resource utilization, and expected outcomes. This part of the process may also include an analytical summary focusing on the effectiveness, key learnings, and potential improvement areas. The use of visual aids such as graphs and diagrams enhance understanding, and the section is rounded off with pertinent references, demonstrating the practical application of the technology.

  3. Application of the DUTUS Tool: the tool is systematically categorized into three modules: legal compliance, ethical adherence, and the potential for a positive societal impact. Each of these modules contains a set of evaluative items, outlined in the previous section, with response options being affirmative, negative, or uncertain.

  4. Scoring DUTUS index: the scoring process is dynamic, where affirmative responses contribute progressively to the overall score. In contrast, negative or uncertain responses are not additive. Each module undergoes an independent evaluation before a composite score is calculated, considering the weightage of each item within the module. This scoring employs an arithmetic weighting method for a nuanced evaluation of compliance.

  5. Decision-Making Framework1:the assessment integrates a triadic color-coded scoring system, applicable to both the overall democratic usage of technology and the individual module assessments. The color codes are red (indicating non-democratic use below 50%), yellow (representing partially democratic use above 50%), and green (signifying complete democratic use at 100%). A prerequisite for a technology to be considered democratically utilized is that each module independently surpasses the 50% threshold in its evaluation.

Figure 1. DUTUS Methodology Summary

3. Conclusions: challenges of the DUTUS tool and forthcoming improvements

The Democratic Use of Technology in Urban Security (DUTUS) framework is a pioneering initiative that aims to use innovative technologies to enhance urban security while respecting democratic principles. Despite its ambitious and complex nature, the DUTUS tool faces several multifaceted challenges, covering its dimensional structure, methodology and practical application.

In terms of its dimensional structure, a key challenge facing DUTUS is navigating complicated regulatory frameworks that are often slow to adapt to the rapid pace of technological development. This mismatch can lead to regulatory gaps and uncertainties, making compliance and enforcement across jurisdictions difficult. To overcome these obstacles, it is imperative that future iterations of DUTUS focus on developing nimble regulatory frameworks that can quickly adapt to technological changes and the changing legal landscape (Blind, 2010). Furthermore, ensuring the ethical use of technology in urban security requires a firm commitment to eradicating bias and discrimination, particularly in technologies such as facial recognition and predictive policing, which have been shown to disproportionately impact marginalised communities, thereby undermining the democratic goals of the framework (Cerezo et al., 2022). To this end, DUTUS must champion promote bias mitigation tactics, such as employing diverse dataset training, conducting algorithm audits, and implementing exhaustive testing protocols aimed at identifying and correcting discriminatory biases (ALTAI, 2019). Another central element of DUTUS is the promotion of citizen participation in decision-making processes related to urban safety technology. However, current efforts to engage diverse public opinion often fall short. Strengthening citizen engagement through the creation of accessible platforms, community consultations, and ensuring the alignment of technology with community values is critical to strengthening the democratic underpinnings of the framework (Bouzguenda et al., 2019). Furthermore, striking a balance between harnessing the benefits of urban security technologies and safeguarding the right to privacy, particularly in the case of invasive technologies, is an ongoing challenge. DUTUS will need to evolve alongside privacy regulations such as the GDPR or the AI Act to proactively address privacy issues (Ismagilova et al., 2022; Heek et al., 2016). By incorporating cutting-edge privacy protections that go beyond existing legal norms, the ethical standard of technology use in urban security can be raised. Finally, quantifying the impact of DUTUS on crime reduction, perceptions of public safety, and trust in authorities is complex, as establishing a direct causal relationship between the implementation of the framework and these outcomes poses significant challenges (Ellefsen, 2011). Addressing this complexity requires significant investment in empirical research and monitoring to assess the framework's effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and ensure public accountability.

Methodologically, the DUTUS's reliance on self-reporting introduces an inherent subjective bias that can lead to inconsistent and unreliable data, as perceptions and reports vary across individuals and groups (Chan, 2010). This subjectivity has the potential to affect the tool's results, which can be a barrier to an accurate assessment of urban safety. Furthermore, the tool's failure to take into account the diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts of urban areas highlights a some limitation. Given the great diversity in demographics, cultural norms, economic conditions and security challenges, a one-size-fits-all approach may prove ineffective across different urban landscapes (Tödtling, & Trippl, 2005). Current data collection and analysis methods may not be sophisticated enough to capture the complex dynamics of urban security, highlighting the need for more robust and nuanced data collection methods, potentially incorporating quantitative metrics and advanced analytical tools such as AI and machine learning (Pansara, 2023).

In terms of practical implementation, the effectiveness of the DUTUS tool relies heavily on the participation and honesty of local authorities, with varying levels of engagement and transparency leading to inconsistent implementation and outcomes (Loia & Maione, 2022). Furthermore, as urban security is a constantly evolving field facing new threats such as cybercrime, technological vulnerabilities, and the effects of global climate change, the current DUTUS model may not be adequately equipped to adapt quickly to these emerging threats, requiring continuous updates and flexibility in its framework. Effective implementation also requires adequate resources and infrastructure, which may not be uniformly available, leading to uneven implementation (Wickramasekera et al., 2010). Success depends on effective collaboration between different stakeholders, including government agencies, law enforcement, community groups and technology experts, a task complicated by differing priorities, interests, and levels of expertise (Torfing, Krogh & Ejrnæs, 2020). Furthermore, the implementation of a technology-driven tool such as DUTUS raises significant ethical and privacy concerns, requiring respectful and ethical data use and adherence to privacy rights to maintain public trust and legal compliance. Finally, the implementation of DUTUS requires significant training and capacity building for the staff involved, a challenge that is particularly pronounced in regions with limited technical expertise and training resources (Laufs & Borrion, 2022).

Table 5. DUTUS tool challenges and forthcoming improvement summary.




Future Improvements

Dimensional issues

Regulatory Frameworks

Navigating complex international, national, and local regulatory frameworks is a challenge for DUTUS. Rapid technological advancements often outpace legal adaptability, leading to regulatory gaps and ambiguities.

Prioritize the development of agile regulatory frameworks that can adapt quickly to technological changes and evolving laws.

Ethical Use and Bias Mitigation

Ensuring ethical technology use in urban security is crucial. Despite efforts, inherent biases, especially in facial recognition and predictive policing, can persist. These biases disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

Invest in advanced bias mitigation strategies, including diverse dataset training, algorithm audits, and rigorous testing to correct discriminatory biases.

Citizen Participation

DUTUS emphasizes citizen participation, but it often falls short of capturing diverse public opinions effectively. Strengthening mechanisms for citizen engagement is essential for democratic foundations.

Enhance platforms for public input, conduct community consultations, and ensure technology aligns with community values and needs.

Privacy Rights

Balancing technological benefits with privacy rights is a challenge, especially concerning data privacy regulations like GDPR.

Adapt to evolving privacy regulations, integrate cutting-edge privacy protections, and set higher ethical standards for technology use in urban security.

Impact Measurement

Measuring the impact of DUTUS on crime reduction, public perceptions of safety, and trust in authorities is complex. Establishing a direct causal link is challenging. Investment in empirical research and monitoring is necessary.

Invest in empirical research and monitoring to assess the framework's effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and ensure public accountability.

Methodological Limitations

Subjective Self-Assessment Bias

Reliance on self-assessment introduces subjective biases and may lead to inconsistent and unreliable data.

Develop objective calibration and validation methods.

Lack of Diverse Contextual Adaptability

DUTUS may not effectively address diverse socio-economic and cultural contexts in urban areas.

Incorporate a more adaptable approach to contextual differences.

Data Collection and Analysis Challenges

Current methods may not capture the complexity of urban security; more sophisticated methods are needed.

Implement advanced data analysis and machine learning tools.

Practical Implementation

Dependence on Local Authority Participation

Variability in local authority participation and transparency poses challenges for implementation.

Establish incentives and accountability mechanisms.

Dynamic Urban Security Threats

DUTUS may struggle to adapt to evolving threats, requiring continuous updates and flexibility.

Implement an agile update system and early trend detection.

Resource and Infrastructure Requirements

Unequal access to resources and infrastructure can lead to uneven implementation.

Foster investment and collaboration to address disparities.

Collaboration and Stakeholder Engagement

Achieving collaboration among diverse stakeholders can be challenging due to different priorities and expertise.

Facilitate communication and establish shared objectives.

Ethical and Privacy Concerns

Ensuring ethical use of data and privacy rights is critical to maintain public trust.

Develop robust privacy policies and transparency.

Training and Capacity Building

Personnel training and capacity building are necessary, which can be challenging in regions with limited resources.

Provide training programs and access to educational resources.

In conclusion, the transition to a democratic use of technology in urban security requires not only harnessing technological advances, but also aligning these innovations with strong and shared democratic values. Striking a balance between enhancing security and protecting individual freedoms is essential. By following a structured, transparent and ethical approach, we can effectively navigate this complex landscape and use technology to secure urban environments while respecting democratic principles. Implementing such a methodology will ensure a careful and well-structured assessment, enabling decision-makers to take a conscientious approach to integrating innovative technologies to enhance urban security. However, it is important to recognise existing limitations and actively work to overcome them. Only through continuous improvement and adaptation can DUTUS fulfil its mission of enhancing urban security while upholding democratic values and high societal standards.


Albino, V., Berardi, U., & Dangelico, R. M. (2015). Smart cities: Definitions, dimensions, performance, and initiatives. Journal of urban technology, 22(1), 3-21.

Ardabili, B. R., Pazho, A. D., Noghre, G. A., Neff, C., Ravindran, A., & Tabkhi, H. (2022). Understanding ethics, privacy, and regulations in smart video surveillance for public safety. arXiv preprint, arXiv:2212.12936.

Bakıcı, T., Almirall, E., &Wareham, J. (2013). A smart city initiative: The case of Barcelona. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 4(2), 135–148.

Balogun, A., Marks, D., Sharma, R., Shekhar, H., Balmes, C., Maheng, D., Arshad, A., & Salehi, P. (2020). Assessing the Potentials of Digitalization as a Tool for Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Development in Urban Centres. Sustainable Cities and Society, 53, 101888.

Bastos, D., Fernández-Caballero, A., Pereira, A., & Rocha, N. P. (2022). Smart City Applications to Promote Citizen Participation in City Management and Governance: A Systematic Review. Informatics, 9(4), 89.

Benevolo, C., Dameri, R. P., & D’Auria, B. (2016). Smart mobility in smart city. In Empowering Organizations (pp. 13-28). Springer international publishing. Crowe, T. and Fennelly, L. (2013), Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design 3rd ed., Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Berg, S., & Hofmann, J. (2021). Digital Democracy. Internet Policy Rev., 10.

Berry, M. (2018). Technology and organised crime in the smart city: an ethnographic study of the illicit drug trade. City, Territory and Architecture, 5(1), 1-11.

Blind, K. (2010). The use of the regulatory framework for innovation policy. In The Theory and Practice of Innovation Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bloch-Wehba, H. (2021). Visible policing: technology, transparency, and democratic control. Cal. L. Rev.109, 917.

Bouzguenda, I., Alalouch, C., & Fava, N. (2019). Towards smart sustainable cities: A review of the role digital citizen participation could play in advancing social sustainability. Sustainable Cities and Society.

Castro-Toledo, F. J. (2019). Miedo al crimen y sociedad tecnológica. B de F. Buenos Aires.

Castro-Toledo, F. J. (2022). La transformación algorítmica del sistema de justicia penal. Aranzadi, Thomson Reuter.

Castro-Toledo, F. J., Miró-Llinares, F., & Aguerri, J. C. (2023). Data-Driven Criminal Justice in the age of algorithms: epistemic challenges and practical implications. In Criminal Law Forum (pp. 1-22). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Catlett, C., Cesario, E., Talia, D., & Vinci, A. (2019). Spatio-temporal crime predictions in smart cities: A data-driven approach and experiments. Pervasive Mob. Comput., 53, 62-74.

Ceccato, V., & Nalla, M. K. (2020). Crime and fear in public places: Towards safe, inclusive and sustainable cities (p. 486). Taylor & Francis.

Chan, D. (2010). So why ask me? Are self-report data really that bad?. In Statistical and methodological myths and urban legends (pp. 329-356). Routledge.

Chen, Y., Li, Y., & Li, C. (2020). Electronic agriculture, blockchain and digital agricultural democratization: Origin, theory and application. Journal of Cleaner Production, 268, 122071.

Cozens, P. and Love, T. (2015). A review and current status of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). Journal of Planning Literature, 30 (4), pp. 393-412.

Datta, A. (2015). New urban utopias of postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial urbanization’in Dholera smart city, Gujarat. Dialogues in human geography5(1), 3-22.

Delgado, G. V., & Castro-Toledo, F. J. (2020). Urban security and crime prevention in smart cities: a quantitative systematic review. International E-Journal of Criminal Sciences, (15).

Ellefsen, B. (2011). Evaluating crime prevention—Scientific rationality or governmentality?. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 12(2), 103-127.

Elmaghraby, A. S., & Losavio, M. M. (2014). Cyber security challenges in Smart Cities: Safety, security and privacy. Journal of advanced research, 5(4), 491-497.

European Commision (2020). Assessment List for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (ALTAI) for self-assessment.

European Forum of Urban Security (2017). Charter for a democratic use of video-surveillance.

Gallardo-Amores, F. J., Real, C. D., & Díaz Fernández, A. M. (2022). A systematic review and conceptual framework of key performance indicators for urban public safety smartness for cities in Andalusia, Spain. A systematic review and conceptual framework of key performance indicators for urban public safety smartness for cities in Andalusia, Spain.

Gómez-Bellvís, A. B. (2022). Los presupuestos fácticos de la prevención general. Una aproximación empírica al rol de la disuasión en la enunciación de la Ley penal (doctoral dissertation). Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche.

Han, H., & Hawken, S. (2018). Introduction: Innovation and identity in next-generation smart cities. City, culture and society, 12, 1-4.

Hartama, D., Mawengkang, H., Zarlis, M., Sembiring, R. W., Furqan, M., Abdullah, D., & Rahim, R. (2017, November). A research framework of disaster traffic management to Smart City. In 2017 Second International Conference on Informatics and Computing (ICIC) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

Heek, J., Arning, K., & Ziefle, M. (2016). How fear of crime affects needs for privacy & safety: Acceptance of surveillance technologies in smart cities. 2016 5th International Conference on Smart Cities and Green ICT Systems (SMARTGREENS), 1-12.

Ismagilova, E., Hughes, D., Dwivedi, Y., & Raman, K. (2019). Smart cities: Advances in research - An information systems perspective. Int. J. Inf. Manag., 47, 88-100.

Ismagilova, E., Hughes, L., Rana, N. P., & Dwivedi, Y. K. (2020). Security, privacy and risks within smart cities: Literature review and development of a smart city interaction framework. Information Systems Frontiers, 1-22.

Jones, T. (2012). The politics of the police. Policing and Society, 22, 545 - 547.

Kitchin, R., & Dodge, M. (2020). The (in) security of smart cities: Vulnerabilities, risks, mitigation, and prevention. In Smart Cities and Innovative Urban Technologies (pp. 47-65). Routledge.

Koops, B. (2009). Technology and the Crime Society: Rethinking Legal Protection. Law, Innovation and Technology, 1, 124 - 93.

Kourtit, K., Nijkamp, P., & Suzuki, S. (2021). Comparative urban performance assessment of safe cities through data envelopment analysis. Regional Science Policy & Practice, 13(3), 591-602.

Kummitha, R. (2019). Smart cities and entrepreneurship: An agenda for future research. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 149. doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2019.119763

Kummitha, R. K. R., & Crutzen, N. (2017). How do we understand smart cities? An evolutionary perspective. Cities, 67, 43-52.

Laufs, J., & Borrion, H. (2022). Technological innovation in policing and crime prevention: Practitioner perspectives from London. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 24(2), 190-209.

Laufs, J., Borrion, H., & Bradford, B. (2020). Security and the smart city: A systematic review. Sustainable cities and society, 55, 102023.

Loia, F., & Maione, G. (2022). Social Accountability of Local Governments in Smart Cities: A Multiple Case Study. In Managing Smart Cities: Sustainability and Resilience Through Effective Management (pp. 181-197). Cham: Springer International Publishing

Lorenc, T., Clayton, S., Neary, D., Whitehead, M., Petticrew, M., Thomson, H., Cummins, S., Sowden, A., & Renton, A. (2012). Crime, fear of crime, environment, and mental health and wellbeing: mapping review of theories and causal pathways. Health & place, 18 4, 757-65 .

Mondejar, M., Avtar, R., Diaz, H., Dubey, R., Esteban, J., Gómez-Morales, A., Hallam, B., Mbungu, N., Okolo, C., Prasad, K., She, Q., & Garcia-Segura, S. (2021). Digitalization to achieve sustainable development goals: Steps towards a Smart Green Planet. The Science of the total environment, 794, 148539 .

Moses, L., & Chan, J. (2016). Algorithmic prediction in policing: assumptions, evaluation, and accountability. Policing and Society, 28, 806 - 822.

Ortiz, A., & Syn, T. (2017). A unified definition of a smart city. In Electronic Government: 16th IFIP WG 8.5 International Conference, EGOV 2017, St. Petersburg, Russia, September 4-7, 2017, Proceedings 16 (pp. 13-24). Springer International Publishing.

Pansara, R. (2023). Cultivating Data Quality to Strategies, Challenges, and Impact on Decision-Making. International Journal of Management Education for Sustainable Development, 6(6), 24-33.

Ruhlandt, R. W. S. (2018). The governance of smart cities: A systematic literature review. Cities, 81, 1-23.

San Juan Guillen, C. & Vozmediano Sanz, L. (2021). Guía de prevención del delito. Seguridad, diseño urbano, participación ciudadana y acción policial. Barcelona: J.M. Bosch Editor.

Slobogin, C., & Brayne, S. (2023). Surveillance Technologies and Constitutional Law. Annual Review of Criminology, 6, 219-240.

Tödtling, F., & Trippl, M. (2005). One size fits all?: Towards a differentiated regional innovation policy approach. Research policy, 34(8), 1203-1219.

Torfing, J., Krogh, A. H., & Ejrnæs, A. (2020). Measuring and assessing the effects of collaborative innovation in crime prevention. Policy & Politics, 48(3), 397-423.

Torfing, J., Krogh, A. H., & Ejrnæs, A. (2020). Measuring and assessing the effects of collaborative innovation in crime prevention. Policy & Politics, 48(3), 397-423.

Trencher, G., & Karvonen, A. (2019). Stretching “smart”: advancing health and well-being through the smart city agenda. Local Environment, 24, 610 - 627.

Tutak, M., & Brodny, J. (2023). A smart city is a safe city: analysis and evaluation of the state of crime and safety in Polish cities. Smart Cities, 6(6), 3359-3392.

Welsh, B., Mudge, M., & Farrington, D. (2010). Reconceptualizing public area surveillance and crime prevention: Security guards, place managers and defensible space. Security Journal, 23, 299-319.

White, J. M. (2016). Anticipatory logics of the smart city’s global imaginary. Urban Geography, 37(4), 572-589.

Wickramasekera, N., Wright, J., Elsey, H., Murray, J., & Tubeuf, S. (2015). Cost of crime: A systematic review. Journal of Criminal Justice, 43, 218-228.

Završnik, A. (2020). Criminal justice, artificial intelligence systems, and human rights. ERA Forum, 20, 567-583.

Zhang, K., Ni, J., Yang, K., Liang, X., Ren, J., & Shen, X. S. (2017). Security and privacy in smart city applications: Challenges and solutions. IEEE Communications Magazine, 55(1), 122-129.

Zhao, X., & Tang, J. (2018). Crime in Urban Areas:: A Data Mining Perspective. ArXiv, abs/1804.08159.

Zhu, S., Li, D., & Feng, H. (2019). Is smart city resilient? evidence from china. Sustain Cities Soc 50: 101636.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 882749.

Author Contributions

All the authors have contributed equally to this work.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

DUTUS Tool v1.0

EmilyElkins 0Elkins:

The story of how TRUSTGEEKS HACK EXPERT transformed my academic trajectory serves as a testament to the power of effective tools and resources in driving positive change. By harnessing the capabilities of this innovative platform, students like myself can not only improve their grades but also cultivate a renewed sense of confidence and success in their educational journey. As we look towards the future, it is evident that with the right support and dedication, sustained academic success is within reach for all students willing to embrace the possibilities offered by TRUSTGEEKS HACK EXPERT. To know more about them Contact through email. ([email protected]) & Telegram:(@)Trustgeekshackexpert ? TRUSTGEEKS HACK EXPERT is here to rescue you. By streamlining your study routine, providing valuable insights, and offering personalized support, TRUSTGEEKS HACK EXPERT equips you with the tools you need to boost your grades and reach your full academic potential. The name TRUSTGEEKS HACK EXPERT truly fits! Your skills in restoring my school grade were nothing short of magical. Thank you for going above and beyond.

Thank you.