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Implications of smartphone usage on privacy and spatial cognition: academic literature and public perceptions

Abstract

The exponential adoption of smartphones affords the general public access to tools (sensors) that were once only available to highly trained scientists and geospatial technicians. This provides more people with opportunities to contribute and consume information relevant to their current location. Geographers have been applying critical theory to examine privacy implications associated with constant locational aware smartphone usage while applied researchers are measuring spatial cognitive abilities using empirically bound approaches. What remains unknown is how smartphone users perceive implications associated with privacy and spatial cognitive abilities as a result of smartphone use for location based queries. An online survey was administered to collect perceptions related to these issues from the general smartphone-using public. It was found that while participants were mindful of privacy concerns associated with smartphone use, they reported that perceived benefits of smartphone use outweigh associated costs. Additionally, the majority of the participants found that their smartphones provided them with confidence in wayfinding tasks rather than hindering them as some literature suggests. Through this study we aim to describe how a lack of understanding of the general publics’ perceptions of smartphone usage may be limiting contemporary theory and practice within volunteered geographic information and location based services related research associated with geography.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. A photo of Prince Harry was recently taken in Las Vegas when he was dancing naked with women, photo leaked as a result of the omnopticon not panopticon http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-21119721.

  2. For ranking questions including this one, we counted all responses that were 3, 4, 5 and categorized them as being “most frequently”.

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Acknowledgments

Britta Ricker would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their feedback to improved this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Britta Ricker.

Appendix: Here we present the questionnaire that was provided to the sample population to collect information regarding perceptions of smartphone use. Text in strikeout font represent questions that were present in the 2012 questionnaire but not in 2013. Text in bold was presented in 2013 only and not in 2012 questionnaire

Appendix: Here we present the questionnaire that was provided to the sample population to collect information regarding perceptions of smartphone use. Text in strikeout font represent questions that were present in the 2012 questionnaire but not in 2013. Text in bold was presented in 2013 only and not in 2012 questionnaire

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Ricker, B., Schuurman, N. & Kessler, F. Implications of smartphone usage on privacy and spatial cognition: academic literature and public perceptions. GeoJournal 80, 637–652 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-014-9568-4

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Keywords

  • Volunteered geographic information
  • Location based services
  • Mobile
  • Smartphone
  • Wayfinding