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The Vote Is In: Citizens Support ‘Smart Cities’ with Driverless Cars, Public Service Drones and Surroundings that Sense Activities


  • Almost half of Americans aspire to live in a driverless city; more than one-third believe it will happen this decade.
  • Drones are a smart way to improve public services, said 57 percent of respondents.
  • Nearly half say cities should collect anonymized data from citizens if it makes life better.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 11, 2014 – A new study commissioned by Intel Corporation and conducted by Penn Schoen Berland found that on average half of Americans desire a driverless society, support drones for public service or want cities to invest in smart infrastructures that would use and apply non-personal data from cars and buildings to improve quality of life for them and their community.

The “Intel Freeway to the Future” study conducted across eight countries by Penn Schoen Berland examines citizens’ attitudes toward technology innovations designed to make cities smarter, more convenient and safer.

Roads without Rage
Forty-four percent of American respondents would like to live in a driverless city, where cars, buses and trains operate intelligently and automatically without people driving them. When asked how automated transportation could affect their cities or towns, Americans cited reductions in the number of traffic incidents (40 percent), traffic (38 percent) and the amount of carbon emissions (34 percent). More than one-third (34 percent) expect to see a driverless city in 10 years or less.

While Americans love their cars, they are willing to give up some of their privacy for improved commuting and parking.

  • More than half of U.S. respondents would anonymously share travel information, such as where and when they travel, to develop automated and intelligent transportation solutions.
  • More than half (54 percent) of respondents would be willing to let an intelligent system select the best travel routes for everyone on the road if it meant overall commute time would be reduced by 30 percent – even if it meant their personal commute time would increase.
  • Fifty percent of Americans would let a city put a sensor on their cars for intelligent parking.

The “Intel Freeway to the Future” survey found that Americans are willing to share information with and relinquish control to their city for the common good. If ambulances, fire trucks and police cars could use the fastest route based on real-time data, 59 percent would opt into a city program that puts a sensor on their car.

Intel researchers – including anthropologists, social scientists and engineers – are imagining, prioritizing, designing and building future mobility experiences, including those for transportation. For instance, Intel Labs is advancing machine-to-machine communications so cars can talk to one another using tiny sensors – inexpensive technology that collects data – that let vehicles know what others around them are doing to increase driver safety.

Drones Deliver Public Services
Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) of U.S. respondents think drones are a smart and sensible way to improve public services. U.S. respondents envision drones supporting law enforcement (64 percent), public safety monitoring (64 percent), firefighting and prevention (61 percent), and ambulance and emergency response (58 percent).

Intel researchers are exploring technologies such as advancements in robotics and drones that would benefit public services by freeing up critical and limited manpower to focus on important tasks while improving safety and convenience.

City Surroundings that Survey Behaviors
American opinions vary when asked about living in a city where buildings, buses and other physical surroundings gather and use anonymous information about what people do and how they do it. Initially 60 percent register concern about privacy, while 40 percent see such a city as a better way to deliver public services or a smart way to improve quality of life.

But when specific benefits to society are cited – such as reducing water and energy consumption, reducing city costs and improving air quality – the tables turn and 61 percent of American respondents say this type of smart city would be worthwhile.

And if in 10 years, the buildings, transportation and services in their city are connected to the Internet and each other, more than one-third (38 percent) would want their home connected, too.

Sensors are already being used in city trials around the world, including Portland, Ore., where Intel is working with the local community on volunteering air quality data to help people understand real-time pollution risks.

Intel and Smart Cities
Based in London, the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Connected Cites aims to extend Intel’s leadership in computing innovation into the future. The institute is researching and designing technologies that may become the foundation for smart cities and bring new experiences to people that make life simpler, easier and more convenient.

Due to Moore’s Law, technology continues to get smaller and more powerful – and therefore can be integrated in a variety of devices, from smart headlights and robots to buildings and streetlights. With sensors and transmitters, these objects may sense the world around them and then share this information with people and other computer systems to intelligently and automatically help society operate more efficiently. By pooling information that individuals share with public information, good things can happen.

Intelligent transportation may cut commute times, shorten emergency response times and eliminate accidents. Sensors and transmitters could collect and apply data to reduce energy consumption and pollution. Even city services such as fire, police and ambulances could benefit from drones.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Intel in Brazil, China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and the United States from July 28 to Aug 15, 2013. It was conducted among a representative sample of 12,000 adults ages 18 and older with a margin of error of plus or minus 0.89 percentage points. The U.S. margin of error overall was 2.53 percentage points and 4.38 percentage points for this section.


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