Do your best to avoid widening digital division
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IoT is a complex technology that involves using many different IoT systems. Some processing is made automatically and lots of attention and skill is required to be aware of the implications of all the actions taken by the tools. Thus, it often happens that only a selective group will benefit from some concrete products based on IoT technologies, mostly people with higher education or incomes, strong social support, young people, etc.[1] This may leave out of the technological adoption other groups such as older people, low income or low educational groups, disabled people, etc. These circumstances create an unfair scenario, which is particularly unacceptable if we talk about tools that may be used to provide citizens access to public services.

In order to minimize this unfair digital discrimination, IoT developers should take some actions that might serve well to help everyone gain access to the tool, by implementing additional functionalities or easy-to-use control interfaces that allow the management of technical and privacy settings. For instance, designing clear terms of use and user-friendly IoT control systems should be an important objective. In general, complexity should be avoided whenever possible. If this is not possible, easy-to-understand instructions should be written or recorded and be accessible for the users in the most user-friendly thinkable way. “Utilizing IoT device affordances to create new interactions through delivery methods like videos, audio and feedback from gestures like hand-waving or blinking lights and sounds may redefine consent mechanisms and shift away from the dominance of form contract terms and conditions.”[2]

IoT system should be designed in a way that facilitates that preferences and needs of the users are translated to the tool in a distributed, cooperative manner so that appropriate decisions about the resources being controlled are made.  Providing active support that allows IoT users benefit from the system is highly recommendable. Better usability will reduce demand for technical skills, whereas improved comprehensibility will reduce higher-order skills requirements. This, of course, includes the decision of sharing some data or allowing processing and automated decision-making. Furthermore, if the IoT tool needs to incorporate tools designed by third parties (apps, for instance), the developers should opt for those who work better in order to avoid digital discrimination.


1Van Deursen, A. J. A. M., & Mossberger, K. (2018). Any thing for anyone? A new digital divide in internet-of-things skills. Policy and Internet10(2), 122–140.

2Urquhart, L., Sailaja, N. & McAuley, D. Realising the right to data portability for the domestic Internet of things. Pers Ubiquit Comput 22, 317–332 (2018).

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