Glenn Dungan, Diana Duque, Raha Ghassemi, Shikha Singh


FOOTPRiNT: Share the Earth. Own your data.


       We are interfacing with our digital and carbon footprints. While our carbon and digital expenditures are often invisible and intangible in our everyday lives, these traces accumulate and have the potential to profoundly affect both urban ecology and individual welfare. FOOTPRiNT allows the user to reclaim ownership of their digital identity for a variety of reasons: to reinforce their privacy, reduce their exposure to advertising, allow them to serve as environmental advocates, and to reclaim and exercise autonomy of their data. By allowing a user to take control of their digital output, in exchange for reducing their carbon footprint, the FOOTPRiNT platform allows its users — those concerned both with digital ownership and a healthy earth — to create a better, cleaner, more secure future for themselves and their environment.

The framework for our toolkit exists in the year 2025, although its application may very well be applied to the present day. In this near future, we speculate that the passing of the Right to Digital Ownership Act will give rise to the Digital Protection Advocacy Alliance (DPAA), a new public sector organization that focuses on citizen’s autonomy over their digital data. This group has the ability to enable the citizen to retract, transfer, or completely destroy their personal data. To support this new platform, the DPAA has opted to levy a service tax on those who wish to regain control of their digital autonomy. In order to remain committed to public service and avoid taxing citizens for their services, the DPAA has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create the platform “FOOTPRiNT”, allowing a reduction of one’s digital footprint in exchange for reducing one’s carbon footprint.

In the AR experience, this shows the places that a user has open accounts in, how they are connected to each other, what community events are happening near them, the current air quality, and their account information about SEEEDS earned and data owned (retracted).


        This program can be accesses through several mediums, including augmented reality-enabled glasses or a simple website, accessible via web or mobile device. The FOOTPRiNT user will be made aware of nearby institutions, businesses, or establishments that contain data and information about the user. FOOTPRiNT’s interface makes the invisible visible: it reveals our data exhaust and information trails. This will be represented by visual and/or auditory signifiers, such as marking a building or an alarm when the FOOTPRiNT user approaches a data depository.

System diagram

A FOOTPRiNT starter kit, intended as an on-boarding package, introduces citizens to the mechanics of the program and provides the first entry point into the platform. The kit, containing  a variety of items, such as an eco-friendly canteen and reusable grocery bag, is contained in the kit’s sustainable wooden box. A pack of flashcards is also included which educates users about the nuances of their  “digital” and “carbon” footprint, as well as a flash drive, which reinforces the user’s ability to store their retracted data in a platform separated from the ubiquitous cloud and provides a physical device in which to repossess their digital footprint. If the FOOTPRiNT user decides to use the AR glasses, the kit will be large enough to hold them when not in use.

The kit is made of eco-friendly materials.

FOOTPRiNT’s audience is made up of digitally conscious and environmentally friendly citizens who often desire greater participation in their communities. To facilitate this exchange, the user is asked to help reduce their carbon footprint by engaging in a variety of activities, including trash recycling, community gardening, or adopting daily sustainable habits such as re-useable bags or bottles or tracking one’s utility bills. By achieving these environmentally conscious goals the citizen will be awarded “SEEEDS” (Self Empowering Environmental Efforts for Digital Sustainability). This is a form of currency to promote repeated engagement with the environment, the digital infrastructure, and the FOOTPRiNT interface itself. More SEEEDS allow a higher caliber of data retrieval and autonomy. For example, 10 SEEEDS might offer knowledge on open accounts in several institutions, while 10,000 SEEEDS may allow the user to retrieve or expunge their data permanently from the digital cloud. Various DPAA-authorized businesses throughout the city will offer retinal scan kiosks to verify and log the user’s identity and provide vetted record-keeping for accrued SEEEDS. This facilitates the FOOTPRiNT user to explore their city and community while still engaging with the interface and being sustainable.

        This is a platform that strives to promote more ecological, digitally-autonomous, and civic-oriented citizens who are not only looking to engage with their individual footprints (both digital and environmental), but are also looking for alternative ways to engage with the city itself. We expect that utilizing this program will encourage more environmentally and digitally conscious, civically-minded individuals who are aware of their role within larger, more complex urban and ecological systems. Such awareness will ideally cultivate urban environments that are more intelligible, communal, and intimate.

       FOOTPRiNT is designed to educate, engage, and enable citizens to reclaim their digital identity in exchange for bettering the world around them. This new paradigm will create a sustainable, resilient and empowered world. FOOTPRiNT is important because it anticipates the rapidly transforming dependencies of existing in a digital world, and works to gives agency to citizens helping them remain autonomous within these changing parameters. Share the Earth, own your data.                



Gidari, Albert. “”Smart Cities” Are Too Smart for Your Privacy.” Center for Internet and Society. March 02, 1970. Accessed May 07, 2017.

Nussbaum, Brian. “Smart Cities – The Cyber Security and Privacy Implications of Ubiquitous Urban Computing.” Center for Internet and Society. April 05, 1970. Accessed May 07, 2017

Ratti, Carlo. The city of tomorrow: sensors, networks, hackers, and the future of urban life. New Haven ; London: Yale university press, 2016.

       Zoonen, Liesbet Van. “Privacy concerns in smart cities.” Government Information Quarterly 33, no. 3 (2016): 472-80.

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