Sensing Environmental Danger in the City


  • Torin Monahan
  • Jennifer T. Mokos


In this paper, we identify and discuss some of the ethical problems associated with digital sensors used to detect water contamination and air pollution in the United States. Such safety devices are often deployed unsystematically and with questionable efficacy, thereby structuring the life chances of people in unequal ways. Whereas most technological infrastructures are hidden from view – or at least from active awareness – until they cease to function, those infrastructures meant to monitor and/or regulate largely ?invisible? public health dangers resist public awareness even when they fail. Because such detection systems tend to individualize responsibility for reducing risk, the systems may normalize and perhaps exacerbate root problems of contamination and unequal exposure. One ethical challenge is to render such systems and their failures legible.




How to Cite

Monahan, Torin, and Jennifer T. Mokos. 2010. “Sensing Environmental Danger in the City”. The International Review of Information Ethics 12 (March). Edmonton, Canada:20-26.