User Design Workshop – Designing control options for sharing location data

Many users are not aware that deep conclusions about their lives can be drawn on the basis of their location history. This occurs when apps not only query the location once, but also store it permanently. Based on this, habits, relationships or health information can be analysed. When apps are used, there is rarely clear and comprehensible information about the possible risks of these analyses. In addition, very few apps offer detailed and intuitive control options.

The SIMPORT project is developing a learning application to help users explore personal location information and create the awareness needed for informed consent. In order to find out how users envision control options in apps and what their privacy needs are, three workshops were organised in January.

The aim of these user design workshops was to understand the needs of users in relation to the control of personal location information and to determine what user interface (UI) design options in smartphone apps should look like for users. For the design workshops, participants were therefore given the necessary tools that enable them to freely design UI alternatives for control and consent to share personal location information. Two workshops took place online and one at the REACH EUREGIO Start-up Center, all lasting about 3 hours.


After a short introduction, the participants got to know each other. They were asked, for example, to report on their experiences with sharing location data, what their favourite app is, what settings they have made to protect their privacy, what hurdles they have encountered, what their concerns and wishes are in this regard and what bothers them when sharing their location. Afterwards, the participants could get creative and develop solutions for the problems and challenges mentioned.

Following this, the participants were able to exchange ideas and give each other feedback on the ideas. Afterwards, the best ideas were selected and prototypes were developed for implementation. Finally, the prototypes were presented to the other participants.


The biggest concern of the participants regarding the collection of location history when using apps was that their private lives could be monitored. The fear was shared that many companies do not want users to have the possibility to control the data collection in order to continue to profit from the collected data. Desired functionalities were the possibility to have one’s own data deleted manually or even automatically after release. Furthermore, it was favoured if all relevant settings could be made easily and centrally. A clear presentation of the recorded data and the analyses based on it would lead to a better understanding.

This has resulted in the following design proposals:

  • A signal light on the smartphone when personal data is collected
  • The ability to ask companies to delete data via an embedded link.
  • A pin that users can place to indicate their location
  • A wheel to control privacy settings
  • No default collection of location-based information
  • An option to use location-based information only during use and not store location information beyond that point
  • A notification when personal information is to be shared and a button to opt out of this
  • A pop-up window showing the results for certain settings
  • An option to ask companies for information about the collection of personal data
  • A map-based overview of the location data collected with links to the apps used
  • An option to set an automatic deletion time for personal data


The results of the workshop will be compared and merged with those from the first User Workshop and the Developer Workshop. The results will also be incorporated into further developments in the project.