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Digital Rights Platform


Improved Digital Rights Platform Now Live! (March 2024)

In an ongoing effort to enhance data privacy, digital rights, and transparency, the City of  Long Beach Department of Technology and Innovation partnered with California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), to launch the enhanced Digital Rights Platform. During a series of mobile community workshops (data walks), residents had the opportunity to test the platform's new features and learn about the technologies the City deploys and how it uses the data it collects.

The enhanced digital rights platform includes a significantly redesigned webpage with information about the City's data collection and usage practices for smart city technologies such as public wi-fi, security cameras, the Go Long Beach application, and public computers and stations at public libraries. The City has 20 civic technologies listed on the new platform and will add new technologies as they are acquired and inventoried.

In addition to providing transparent educational resources about smart city technologies, the platform establishes a feedback channel for community input, fostering a dynamic dialog between the City and Long Beach community members on the role of technology in municipal operations. To coincide with the launch, physical signage available in English, Spanish, and Khmer was also installed in the public right-of-way adjacent to select City technologies in Downtown, Central, and North Long Beach and includes QR codes to direct viewers to the new platform.

  • Digital Rights Platform Data Walks (December 2022)

    The DTPR Icons Design Guide and Taxonomy are licensed by the Digital Transparency in the Public Realm contributors under Creative Common Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).


    Blog post compiled by Katherine Sanchez, Digital Innovation Fellow

    In Summer 2022, two summer fellows for the Long Beach Smart City Initiative launched the first version of a Digital Rights Signage and Platform that aims to inform the public of the City’s technology deployment and data collection practices. This project was spurred by community outreach conducted by the City and its partners that revealed the public’s overall concerns, unawareness, and uncertainty surrounding the City’s usage of technologies and data systems (read more about these findings here).The new Digital Rights Platform and digital rights notice signs seek to improve the usability and accessibility of our smart city technologiesenhance visibility of smart city technologies, and provide more robust and responsive channel for community input. 

     engage community members and obtain user feedback on the digital rights notice signs that are displayed in Downtown Long Beach, we co
    nducted four “data walks” during October 2022, facilitated by City staff and CSULB Professor Gwen Shaffer. We welcomed more than 40 participants—representing diverse ages, ethnicities, zip codes and education levels. They shared their perspectives on data privacy, as well as their experiences interacting with City technology and the Digital Rights Platform and its linked signage. Specifically, participants shared their thoughts on the digital rights notice signs linked to the Eco Totem and License Plate Recognition technology located near The Promenade in Downtown Long Beach. This feedback will help inform future development of the Digital Rights Platformensuring that the signage is useful and meets community needs. The Data Walks were held at different days and times to accommodate participant schedules, and food and drinks were provided. We compensated community members for their time and input with gift cards. 

    Eco Totem     

    What We Heard 

    Appreciation of data transparency by the City: Local governments, like the City of Long Beach, are now deploying “smart” tools like communication technologies and sensors to address issues that range from traffic congestion to poor air quality and housing shortages. Many Data Walk participants initially expressed concerns regarding data privacy and use of personal data by the City and third-party vendorsThese findings validate the need for systems such as the Digital Rights Platform and informational signage that incorporates transparency to ensure that residents are not forced to guess how the City is sharing or analyzing their data.  

    After learning about the platform and interacting with the signage, participants expressed appreciation for the City’s active efforts to increase data transparency with community members. When asked about their thoughts on the platform and linked signage, one participant expressed, “I was surprised that the City is letting us know about data collection practices,” while another participant stated, "It’s not just a question of trust, it's a question of transparency, and it is only fair that the City let’s people know that it is happening.”A third participant also stated, “I think it is good that the City wants to tell you they are using your data. The more you can make informed decisions the better. Builds trust within the community.” The City’s initiative to inform the public about emerging technologies and data collection practices was met with overall positive feedback as the average rating for the platform’s online experience was 8.9/10.


    The technology’s data collection matters: primary finding from the Data Walks is that participants’ level of comfort with a technology is directly tied to the type and amount of personally identifiable information collected by that technology. When comparing the featured technologies, participants expressed a greater need to learn more about data collection practices related to License Plate Recognition because, unlike the Eco Totem, this technology collects identifiable information about vehicle registrations.  

    Participants expressed feeling less comfortable with the City collecting personally identifiable data due to data privacy concerns, especially out of fear of potential data leaks and personal information being sold to third parties. Concern of over-surveillance by law enforcement agencies was another prevalent theme in our conversations regarding the collection of identifiable vs. unidentifiable data. Many individuals expressed willingness to trade some level of data privacy for perceived benefits of greater public safety and efficiency, while others expressed concern about who has access to their personal information and the potential for it to be used in unanticipated ways. 

    Group discussions also informed us how participants were much less concerned about data privacy notices when technology is used to harvest unidentifiable data on traffic congestion and “crowd sensing” instead of their personal information to track transit or city planning. 

    Residents fear becoming inundated with too many City digital rights notice signsOverall, Data Walk participants expressed the need to access a wide range of information about the City’s public facing technology and data, particularly about ones they are generally uncomfortable with.This led to conversations regarding what City technologies should and should not have data privacy notices displayed to avoid possible signage fatigue within the community. One participant shared stated:  

    My concern is that people will ignore the signs. It is important that weunderstand the amount of data we are giving up tolive in a society. But if you are inundated with Data Privacy signs, at some point they stop being relevant, and the information slips to the back of the mindWe don't want to get bogged down on trying to meet every single person’s concern. There is a cost benefit analysis so we should focus on the [technologies] that have the most relevant, salient impact in an individual’s life. 

    This sentiment was echoed by numerous folks throughout our four Data Walks. Many expressed the need for strategic and targeted signage placement, specifically in low-income and communities of color in Long Beach, to effectively inform community members about data privacy and implemented smart city technologies without overwhelming the public with information. This supports the need for the City to conduct further community outreach efforts to identify what technologies the community is interested in learning more about through the Digital Rights Platform and informational signage.  

    We need to improve the placement of signs linked to the Digital Rights PlatformOne of the primary goals for this series of Data Walks was to collect feedback on the placement of signs linked to the Digital Rights Platform. The City is interested in learning about the public’s perspective of the signs, their selected locations, design, and content. Many participants expressed concerns regarding the sign’s placement as they felt the signs were “easy to miss” and “not eye-catching” enough to pedestrians. One participant stated, “Oddly enough, it was easy to miss. I didn't notice it until it was pointed out. I think my brain is conditioned to just ignore signs as background information. I find it interesting that Inoticed the Eco Totem, but not the sign.” A second participant followed this comment by suggesting that if the sign had been posted onthe Eco Totem itself, it would have been more noticeable and accessible to the public.  

    When asked about the signs featuring License Plate Recognition technology inside Parking Lot C near Harvey Milk Promenade Park, participants said that the signs could be made larger to make them more conspicuous. Others expressed the need for these signs to be mounted on City infrastructuressuch as pay stations inside the parking structures.  

    Signs need to display the “right” information: Various participants also shared the need to include more information on the measures and practices that are in place by the City to protect the data that is collected. One participant shared their thoughts by stating, “I’m not as worried about what is collected as I am about how long it is kept and who has access to it. That’s more concerning for me.” Another participant echoed this sentiment by sharing, “I am open to city collecting data. But I’m concerned if the city collecting data and it is leaking to someone else. It would be good to mention on the platform about what kind of management the City does to keep data safe. We have nothing to do with data collection, it is happening. But I need to know if it is secure.  

    These conversations highlight community concerns around data retention and security practices. Questions surrounding the security of data collected by the City were prevalent in our conversations with community members. We discovered that the lack of transparency on data protection policies often leaves residents feeling exploited and distrustful of how their data is being stored by the City and accessed by third party vendors.These sentiments on privacy norms and expectations will guide future development of thevirtual Digital Rights Platform and digital rights notice signage 

    What’s next?

    One of our top priorities is translating the virtual Digital Rights Platform website into Khmer, Tagalog, and Spanish so it is accessible tonon-English-speaking community members. Additionally, the first four Long Beach Data Walks gave us great insights into actionable next steps:  

    • Display more information about the technologies used, data collected and stored on each system description to increase transparency. 
    • Deploy more technologies beyond the two currently seen in Downtown Long Beach. 
    • Continue partnering with various organizations throughout the Cityto promote the program’s visibility, especially in communities of color and other underserved communities in Long Beach.

  • Digital Rights Platform Beta (August 2022)

    Digital Rights Platform Iconography

    (The DTPR Icons Design Guide and Taxonomy are licensed by the Digital Transparency in the Public Realm contributors under Creative Common Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).)

    Blog post compiled by Shannon Lin and Asher Lipman, Civic Innovation Corps Fellows

    Hi! We’re Shannon Lin & Asher Lipman, two Summer Fellows for the City of Long Beach Smart City Initiative team here through the Coding it Forward Civic Innovation Corps Fellowship under Smart City Program Manager Ryan Kurtzman’s supervision.  

    Read our December 2022 blog post regarding our recent Long Beach Data Walks to learn more about the Digital Rights Platform!

    What did we work on?

    We developed the first version of a Digital Rights Platform that aims to inform the public of the city’s technology deployment and data collection practices/usage. This was motivated by community outreach done by the City and its partners in 2020/2021 that revealed the public’s overall concerns, unawareness, and uncertainty of the City’s usage of various technology (tech) and data systems. Additionally, there isn’t an easily accessible channel for residents to view this information and share their feedback with the City.  

    We built this prototype of the Digital Rights Platform with Digital Transparency in the Public Realm (DTPR) open-source assets that are available on Github and managed by Helpful Places. The Helpful Places team also provided us with design and development advice along the way.

    Note that Long Beach does have a publicly accessible dataset on its Open Data Portal that provides some information about public data collection in accordance with the Senate Bill 272. However, the scope is very limited with technical terminology used and the platform is not communicated well as an available resource. The Digital Rights Platform seeks to expand the breadth and depth, improve the usability and accessibility, and overall provide better support and outreach as an ongoing resource. 

    What did we accomplish?

    Our 10-week efforts resulted in both an external-facing online and offline component. This online platform is a very early-stage development that we invite you to give feedback on through a Microsoft Form linked directly on the platform itself. We also deployed various digital rights notice signs around the city that link to the online platform. 

    Eco Totem     Eco Totem Sign

    Our development process

    During this 10-week period, we followed an agile development framework to help create an overall vision within our five 2-week sprints to stay on track and iterate quickly. This included analyzing foundational research performed by the city and its partners in 2020 and 2021, performing community outreach through surveys (offered in Long Beach’s 4 primary languages of English, Khmer, Tagalog, and Spanish) and live chats with various community members, and developing both our online platform and offline signs. We received 100+ survey responses from a diverse sample size, chatted with ~10 community members to learn more about their feeling/experiences with public-facing City tech/data, and received feedback from our platform from ~20 community members to help direct future development to create a platform that the community wants and can easily use. We compensated community members for their time and input with gift cards and prize drawings.  

    Key partners

    To improve our community outreach, we leaned on various partners to help promote our outreach survey designed to get an understanding of the public’s concerns, our interest form for live feedback interviews to improve our platform, and overall to connect with more community members through already trusted organizations/sources. These organizations included the Long Beach Library, Centro CHA, Long Beach Forward, Long Beach Gray Panthers, United Cambodian Community, YMCA of Long Beach, Filipino Migrant Center, Long Beach Rotary Club, Days LB, CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Khmer Girls in Action. We worked more closely with some of these organizations than others and are looking to further our relationship with them to continue improving the city and creating more inclusive, accessible, and effective programs/platforms. 

    What did we learn from the Long Beach community?

    Community outreach survey

    First, we’d like to share the demographics of the survey respondents: mostly those who live in Long Beach, youth, non-white, and low-income. This contrasts the usual demographics of respondents, and we hope to continue improving our outreach to non-English first language members and expanding overall reach to create a more inclusive development process and platform. Below, we share some summary visuals and takeaways. 


    Above you see two highlights from our various quantitative questions. Respondents overall want all types of control over the City’s public-facing tech/data with the top one as ability to view their data. The digital rights platform hopes to help give insights into that but is by no means the only solution nor the final version. Of the responses, most learn about the city’s usage of tech/data through online platforms. This of course is skewed due to the younger nature of the respondents but further validates our two-sided online and offline components of our digital rights platform. 

    Qualitative free-response questions also gave us helpful insights. Overall, people feel unsafe, worried, cautious, and/or uncomfortable when they think about the City’s public-facing tech/data usage with most believing that the city’s practices are a strong violation of their privacy. At the same time, almost the same number of folks believe that the City uses the tech/data to improve everyday life. Most believe that the City collects personal information (like home address, income, demographic information, criminal record, etc.) and that they are most uncomfortable with cameras, whether they are used excessively/reactively in a non-consensual manner, by the police department, or involves facial recognition. Here’s a few highlighted (paraphrased) quotes: 

    I think the City collects data on "living situations, what could be better, how we live, and more. I think if the intention is to make our city better, it is okay." 

    "I think about how the city tracks what people use and what they do just to make sure they're staying safe and not doing illegal things, which I appreciate. However I am concerned on the data that is tracked, some of which people might not want to be known to the public or at all."

    “I've never shared feedback with the city because I didn't know this was an option”

    “I'm not sure how to share my feedback in a way that will be useful for the City. I worry my feedback will be interpreted as ‘complaining’ and then ignored.”

    "I and many of my neighbors are most uncomfortable with data collection by untrusted organizations like the Police and Development Services. The data isn’t usefully available to the community and not serving the majority of the residents." 

    These takeaways validate the need to provide specific insights into what public-facing tech/data the City uses, a channel for the community to share their feedback to the city who then needs to take the public’s concerns into their decision-making process, and overall improve the city’s transparency and inclusion practices. 

    Community interviews

    Overall, folks want access to a wide range of information about the City’s public-facing tech/data usage, particularly about ones they are generally uncomfortable with. When thinking about traits that make them uncomfortable, wrongful usage or access to certain datasets come to mind. Among the interviewed community members about what they wish they had information to, data content was the top cited want: what’s in the data, purpose of data collection, what technologies are used, who is responsible for the data, who has access to the data, etc.  

    Platform testing feedback chats

    Based on research conducted in 2020/21 and newer 2022 research through the survey and interviews mentioned above, we built the first version of the online platform. Building something the community wants is one of our top priorities, so we continued to reach out to various organizations to help us promote the platform and chat with various community members to hear their feedback directly. Here are some (paraphrased) quotes that we heard during our platform feedback chat: 

    “WOW, this is crazy. The government’s going to tell us what they use?” 

    “Clean site. Info is great!” 

    "This site tells too much and too little at the same time. I’m left with a lot of questions." 

    “What does digital rights mean?” 

    "I’d rather be informed but now I’m uncomfortable with these technologies & data collection systems." 

    "I wonder if we can have a ‘risk’ section that more clearly details what this means for the public."

    These feedback chats continued to validate the need for a platform like this, and clearly continued work is needed to expand the breadth/depth of information presented, increase usability/accessibility of the site, and overall deliver a solution that works for the community and city. 

    Parking 1     Parking 2

    What’s next?

    One of our top priorities is translating the full site into Khmer, Tagalog, and Spanish. Additionally, the first round of feedback chats gave us great insights into actionable next steps: 

    1. Better define digital rights platform and promote it as an available resource.
    2. Display more information about the technologies used & data collection on each system description to increase transparency. Also, include more systems beyond the 2 currently seen.
    3. Continue partnering with various organizations throughout the city 

    How can I get involved and give feedback to the City? 

    We hope to continue hearing from you directly to better deliver and meet your needs! To get involved with the digital rights platform development, you can reach out to smartcity@longbeach.gov with any questions, comments, or concerns.