My Smarter Essex

Poll results from My Smarter Essex

My Smarter Essex, which took place on 6 October 2016 at Anglia Ruskin University, included a number of real-time, interactive polls that gathered the audience's opinions on some of the issues raised during the presentations. This was in addition to the free-form questions and comments submitted by those who attended.

We can confirm that 125 people took part in the polls, and their responses – along with our commentary – is now available.

The poll results are divided into three topics: Smarter Lifestyle, A Smarter Place to Live and Smarter Transport.

Smarter Lifestyle

Would you prefer to seek medical advice from a GP or through technology?

There is a clear preference for talking to a GP over seeking medical advice through technological means, but see the question and conclusion below.

How far should we go with the MAGPUS?

The audience on the whole were happy to receive a diagnosis from a piece of technology, but still on the whole thought that they would like to see a GP in a face-to-face appointment at some stage of their diagnosis.

Would the technology shown today motivate you to do exercise?

IDTechEx Research (July 2016) forecasts that the market for wearables will be worth over $30bn by the end of 2016 and growing significantly in the coming years. The reason for asking this question was to explore attitudes towards using wearable technologies to motivate their users to do more exercise. The respondents show relatively high optimism as 78% see wearable technologies motivating them to do more exercise to some extent. It will be interesting to see whether this is reflected in the cohort's Christmas wish lists and sales...

Would you do (more) exercise if rewarded with virtual money?

Almost all teenagers play smartphone games. To advance and win in the game you need game-affecting items like health boosts, waiting time reduction, cosmetic items, and other virtual goods. Usually these goods are bought with virtual money. The reason for asking this question was to understand if there is any positive relationship between doing exercise and rewarding the user with virtual money to be spent in the game. This might be too straightforward a conclusion but it seems that the need for game resources would motivate members of the cohort to do more exercise. Almost half (47%) of the respondents would definitely do more excersise for a virtual money reward. All in all, we should make greater use of the engaging power of games to do more exercise, developing perhaps a virtual currency to support and scale-up this positive behaviour.

A Smarter Place to Live

How far do you think we should go with home automation?

There are several things to note about this response. With a self-selected group of individuals already with a STEM bias, it is interesting to note that approximately two-thirds want minimal interaction with neighbours or the community (presumably due to security/privacy concerns, or prevailing social attitudes). Of those who want no neighbourly interaction at the technical level, 2:1 want to advance their home to be as smart as possible. 1 in 4 – a significant proportion – would want to extend to a smart community, but this is likely below critical mass for the cost of the infrastructure required to support it. It may be that, as the technology becomes more established, this figure increases.

How far should your home extend to other areas of life?

Here we have greater inclusivity with over 40% happy to go all the way and more than 75% wanting to merge either work or social "outings" (or both). This makes the system developments worthwhile. Restaurant owners probably shouldn't panic, however: support for the idea of conducting social gatherings virtually was lowest at 10% and it is likely that many people (and probably even more outside of this audience demographic) will continue to go out in person for social meetings to experience real human interaction.

Smarter Transport

Which are most important to future transport?

The audience here has shown a clear preference (69%) for the removal of human error. This suggests that the majority of respondents are aware of the fact that human error is the cause of most transport accidents. The responses to the following questions are consistent with this result: the audience would trust a machine to handle their transport as long as it can be proven to be safer, until something goes wrong, at which point the adaptability of a human brain and comfort of human presence are preferred.

Would you travel in an autonomous car/plane?

Very few people are against the concept of autonomy in their transport with only 6% of respondents saying they would "never" travel in an autonomous car/plane. However, the majority of respondents (44%) would be happy to do this but only when a sufficiently strong case has been made that this would be safer than a human operator. This, in part, explains why so much research is being done by the likes of Google to show how much safer their vehicles are than human-operated equivalents. Almost a third of people want an autonomous vehicle even now which shows good engagement with the concept.

Which would you trust more to land a plane?

Here we see a clear majority of respondents preferring there to be an operator ("human in the loop") even on an autonomous vehicle. This is interesting as there is the potential in these systems for the human to be the limiting factor. We already see this on some systems which can be fully automated, such as the DLR, where there is often a human operator for reassurance. In this case, however, they generally have no real input to the operation of the system and so cannot introduce human error. Interestingly, the number of people who would prefer just a human operator is less than the number who would prefer a machine only.

Which would you trust more to land a plane with an engine fire?

This result mirrors the above except there is a reversal in the number of people preferring a machine over a human operator. This is interesting, and perhaps to be expected, because while the human may be the weakness in the system, people seem to prefer the presence of a human operator when something goes wrong. Machines are perhaps regarded as more trustworthy when dealing with "nominal" situations.

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