Citizenship now a design principle: UNSW

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Citizenship now a design principle: UNSW

Engineers and developers should take into account the citizenship impact of technology in new product designs, a University of New South Wales academic says.

Corporate citizenship issues like privacy and carbon footprints are increasingly relevant in the design cycle, because addressing them retroactively is costly, both financially and also potentially to an organisation’s reputation.

Product teams should approach design with good corporate citizenship principles in mind from the start -- and the tertiary sector has an important role to play, according to Andrew Dempster, Director of Research and a Professor at the School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems, University of New South Wales (UNSW).

“Engineers in general have to be aware of the implications of technology they’re introducing,” Dempster explains.

“People should be taught citizenship responsibilities in an engineering sense – if you are going to be a responsible engineer, these are the things you should be looking at [when approaching a new product design].”

However, the inclusion of citizenship subjects in engineering and IT degrees is currently “a very low priority” as other business skills demanded by prospective employers take precedence in the curriculum.

“There is pressure on educators to teach business skills that have a direct economic benefit for employers, like corporate communication,” Dempster continues.

“Topics with no perceived economic benefit are lower down on the priority list.”

Dempster recently chaired a full-day seminar at UNSW on technological threats to location privacy. Among the topics discussed were personal privacy issues introduced by the “explosive” growth of location-aware computing – for example, GPS-enabled mobile phones and Google Street View.

“The idea that technology is able to compromise your privacy is something people worry about,” he adds.
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