How to Balance Privacy and Convenience in Smart Buildings? A Case Study

Smart Buildings — how to strike a balance between privacy and convenience?

With the powerful predictive analytics in smart buildings, they can recognise the identities of all occupants to analyse the occupants’ behavioral patterns. The trained systems can then provide individualised optimal services, but the privacy of the occupants may be compromised.

Here is a case of a smart lift provided by ( which recognises users’ faces and shares the users’ personal identity information with the IoT-enabled cloud to check the users’ authorisation and run the Machine Learning model algorithm to identify the destination floor of the users. It provides convenience to users but it keeps track of the personal information and behaviour patterns of users.

With reference to Groth (2022), our class discussed how to strike a balance between privacy and convenience in smart buildings with cases as justifications.

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In summary of the about 120 case study submissions, the potential solutions can be categorised into three, viz (a) contractual solution — transparency and opt-out consent, (b) legal solution — regulations governing privacy protection, and (c) technical solution — blockchain and data anonymisation. They may all be relevant, but the first two are not commercialisable solutions, as they rely on other institutions to protect us.

It is interesting to note from this discussion forum that a simple problem may be very challenging to find an innovative and viable solution. PropTech may be the discipline to develop a technically viable solution.

We have chosen two reports as exemplars for this PropTech cases (issue 2022–09) with their consents. Let’s read their case analyses and discuss further.

The full report is available at


Groth, Diane (2022) IoT ethics must factor into privacy and security discussions, TechTarget, January 6.



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