The generational gap in surveillance technologies

Data: Survey Monkey online poll on smart cities. Survey Monkey online poll on facial recognition. Total margin of error for both surveys is ±2.5 percentage points; Poll methodology; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Most Americans are comfortable living in a smart city (65%) and support the use of facial recognition technologies by local police and governments (61%).

Yes, but: A dichotomy emerges between young adults 18-to-34 years old and adults 65 and older, according to Axios-SurveyMonkey polls on smart cities and facial recognition. While wariness of smart devices and cities increases with age, so does support for surveillance technology.

Only about half of adults 65 and older (56%) feel comfortable living in a smart city, but nearly three-fourths (72%) support facial recognition technology use — potentially pointing to an overall discomfort with connected technologies, except when they're perceived to prioritize safety.

  • Meanwhile, young adults, who have grown up using digital devices, are less wary of connected cities (74% feel comfortable living in them), but more wary of direct surveillance and a potential invasion of privacy (only 51% support facial recognition use).

Methodology: These data are from SurveyMonkey online polls conducted among adults ages 18 and older in the United States. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. The smart cities survey was conducted May 17 - 20, 2019 among 3.044 adults. The facial recognition survey was conducted June 4 - 10, 2019 among 2,880 adults. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points and full crosstabs are available here and here.

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