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

Britta Ricker, Nadine Schuurman, Fritz Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-652
Number of pages16
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 29 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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