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Smart cities: Future mobility and new crime opportunity SSS4

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: SSS4

The evolution of smart cities is driven by rapid technological advancements, e.g. the Internet of Things, sensors-based devices, autonomous vehicles, and networks/connectedness. Smart cities are envisioned as a pathway to increased sustainability, a means to promote wellbeing, and to increase the liveability and accessibility of places. Technological innovation rarely considers crime prevention and security in the design phase, it is often an afterthought. Consider smart city innovations under development. Smart traffic sensor and lights may support the flow of pedestrians, bikes and vehicles and ease traffic congestion. Smart apps may support finding available electric chargers or empty parking spaces. Smart street lighting may save energy. However, as outlined in Ekbom’s (2008) ‘Misdeeds and security framework’- for anticipating crime risk against a range of scientific and technological innovations (STIs), smart cities may create several new opportunities for offenders. Examples include misappropriated use of technology, for example stolen personal data communicated insecurely across networks; misuse of technology, e.g., using the parking app to find full car parks which may offer greater opportunity for vehicle theft; and obstructing sensors to stop smart lights from operating, resulting in increased dark spots for offenders to operate within. Smart cities may also alter the mobility patterns of urban spaces, fundamentally changing future mobility patterns within a city - how, where and when people move about urban spaces. This may change routine activities and lifestyles and significantly change crime patterns in the city.  Smart cities may also exclude people from urban spaces – as they are often profit generated, and not co-developed with citizens or users. Indeed, smart cities may exacerbate digital exclusion, which in turn may have an impact on the security and personal safety of those excluded. Smart cities may not be designed in a user-friendly way for elderly persons – whose accessibility and mobility may be restricted by smart city growth. Increasingly automated processes remove humans from many urban systems, for example public transport. What might the impact of this be on crime?

We welcome applications which offer qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods designs to address this challenge, from applicants with a background in data science. We have good links with Nottingham City Council who aim to be the UKs first carbon neutral city by 2028 but remain open to suggestions for alternative case studies in your proposal. The successful PhD candidate will join the Quantitative and Spatial Criminology (QSC) research group at Nottingham Trent University.

School strategic research priority

This aligns with the Centre for Crime and Offending Prevention and Engagement (COPE).

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418