Digital Inclusion: International Policy and Research

Book edited by Simeon Yates and Elinor Carmi: “This collection presents policy and research that addresses digital inequalities, access, and skills, from multiple international perspectives.  With a special focus on the impact of the COVID-19, the collection is based on the 2021 Digital Inclusion, Policy and Research Conference, with chapters from both academia and civic organizations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed citizens’ relationship with digital technologies for the foreseeable future. Many people’s main channels of communication were transferred to digital services, platforms, and apps. Everything ‘went online’: our families, friends, partners, health, work, news, politics, culture, arts and protesting. Yet access to digital technologies remained highly unequal. This brought digital inclusion policy and research to the fore, highlighting to policymakers and the public the ‘hidden’ challenges and impacts of digital exclusion and inequalities.

The cutting-edge volume offers research findings and policycase studies that explore digital inclusion from the provision of basic access to digital, via education and digital literacy, and on to issues of gender and technology.  Case studies are drawn from varied sources including the UK, Australia, South America, and Eastern Europe, providing a valuable resource in the pursuit of social equity and justice…(More)”

Feminist democratic innovations in policy and politics

Article by Paloma Caravantes and Emanuela Lombardo: “This article examines the potential of feminist democratic innovations in policy and institutional politics. It examines how feminist democratic innovations can be conceptualised and articulated in local institutions. Combining theories on democratic governance, feminist democracy, social movements, municipalism, decentralisation, gender equality policies and state feminism, it conceptualises feminist democratic innovations in policy and politics as innovations oriented at (a) transforming knowledge, (b) transforming policymaking and public funding, (c) transforming institutions, and (d) transforming actors’ coalitions. Through analysis of municipal plans and interviews with key actors, the article examines feminist democratic innovations in the policy and politics of Barcelona’s local government from 2015 to 2023. Emerging from the mobilisation of progressive social movements after the 2008 economic crisis, the findings uncover a laboratory of feminist municipal politics, following the election of a new government and self-proclaimed feminist mayor. Critical actors and an enabling political context play a pivotal role in the adoption of this feminist institutional politics. The article concludes by arguing that feminist institutional politics at the local level contribute to democratising policy and politics in innovative ways, in particular encouraging inclusive intersectionality and participatory discourses and practices…(More)”.and 

Regulatory experimentation: Moving ahead on the agile regulatory governance agenda

OECD Policy Paper: “This policy paper aims to help governments develop regulatory experimentation constructively and appropriately as part of their implementation of the 2021 OECD Recommendation for Agile Regulatory Governance to Harness Innovation. Regulatory experimentation can help promote adaptive learning and innovative and better-informed regulatory policies and practices. This policy paper examines key concepts, definitions and constitutive elements of regulatory experimentation. It outlines the rationale for using regulatory experimentation, discusses enabling factors and governance requirements, and presents a set of forward-looking conclusions…(More)”.

Plurality: The Future of Collaborative Technology and Democracy

Book by E. Glen Weyl, Audrey Tang and ⿻ Community: “Technology and democracy today are at odds: technology reinforces authoritarian oversight and corrupts democratic institutions, while democracies fight back with restrictive regulation and public sector conservatism. However, this conflict is not inevitable. This is the consequence of choosing to invest in technologies such as AI and cryptocurrencies at the expense of democratic principles. In some places, such as the Ether community, Estonia, Colorado, and especially Taiwan, the focus has shifted to technologies that promote pluralistic collaboration, and have witnessed the co-prosperity of both democracy and technology. Written by the paradigm leaders of the Plurality, this book shows for the first time how every technologist, policymaker, business leader, and activist can use it to build a more collaborative, diverse, and productive democratic world.

When Uber arrived in Taiwan, it sparked a lot of controversy, as it has in most parts of the world. But instead of fueling the controversy, social media, with the help of vTaiwan, a platform developed with the help of cabinet ministers, encouraged citizens to share their feelings and engage in deep conversations with thousands of participants to brainstorm how to regulate online ride-hailing services. The technology, which uses statistical tools often associated with AI to aggregate opinions, allows each participant to quickly view a clear representation of all people’s viewpoints and provide feedback on their own thoughts. From the outset, a broadly supported viewpoint is brought to the forefront among a diverse group of people with different perspectives, creating a rough consensus that ensures the benefits of this new form of ridesharing while protecting the rights of the drivers, and is implemented by the government. This process has been used in Taiwan to solve dozens of controversial problems and has quickly spread to governments, cooperatives, and blockchain communities around the world…(More)”.

The Unintended Consequences of Data Standardization

Article by Cathleen Clerkin: “The benefits of data standardization within the social sector—and indeed just about any industry—are multiple, important, and undeniable. Access to the same type of data over time lends the ability to track progress and increase accountability. For example, over the last 20 years, my organization, Candid, has tracked grantmaking by the largest foundations to assess changes in giving trends. The data allowed us to demonstrate philanthropy’s disinvestment in historically Black colleges and universities. Data standardization also creates opportunities for benchmarking—allowing individuals and organizations to assess how they stack up to their colleagues and competitors. Moreover, large amounts of standardized data can help predict trends in the sector. Finally—and perhaps most importantly to the social sector—data standardization invariably reduces the significant reporting burdens placed on nonprofits.

Yet, for all of its benefits, data is too often proposed as a universal cure that will allow us to unequivocally determine the success of social change programs and processes. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. Left unchecked, the unintended consequences of data standardization pose significant risks to achieving a more effective, efficient, and equitable social sector…(More)”.

Sludge Toolkit

About: “Sludge audits are a way to identify, quantify and remove sludge (unnecessary frictions) from government services. Using the NSW Government sludge audit method, you can

  • understand where sludge is making your government service difficult to access
  • quantify the impact of sludge on the community
  • know where and how you can improve your service using behavioural science
  • measure the impact of your service improvements…(More)”.

Creating an Integrated System of Data and Statistics on Household Income, Consumption, and Wealth: Time to Build

Report by the National Academies: “Many federal agencies provide data and statistics on inequality and related aspects of household income, consumption, and wealth (ICW). However, because the information provided by these agencies is often produced using different concepts, underlying data, and methods, the resulting estimates of poverty, inequality, mean and median household income, consumption, and wealth, as well as other statistics, do not always tell a consistent or easily interpretable story. Measures also differ in their accuracy, timeliness, and relevance so that it is difficult to address such questions as the effects of the Great Recession on household finances or of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing relief efforts on household income and consumption. The presence of multiple, sometimes conflicting statistics at best muddies the waters of policy debates and, at worst, enable advocates with different policy perspectives to cherry-pick their preferred set of estimates. Achieving an integrated system of relevant, high-quality, and transparent household ICW data and statistics should go far to reduce disagreement about who has how much, and from what sources. Further, such data are essential to advance research on economic wellbeing and to ensure that policies are well targeted to achieve societal goals…(More)”.

Designing an instrument for scaling public sector innovations

Paper by Mirte A R van Hout, Rik B Braams, Paul Meijer, and Albert J Meijer: “Governments worldwide invest in developing and diffusing innovations to deal with wicked problems. While experiments and pilots flourish, governments struggle to successfully scale innovations. Public sector scaling remains understudied, and scholarly suggestions for scaling trajectories are lacking. Following a design approach, this research develops an academically grounded, practice-oriented scaling instrument for planning and reflecting on the scaling of public sector innovations. We design this instrument based on the academic literature, an empirical analysis of three scaling projects at the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, and six focus groups with practitioners. This research proposes a context-specific and iterative understanding of scaling processes and contributes a typology of scaling barriers and an additional scaling strategy to the literature. The presented instrument increases our academic understanding of scaling and enables teams of policymakers, in cooperation with stakeholders, to plan and reflect on a context-specific scaling pathway for public sector innovations…(More)”.

Objectivity vs affect: how competing forms of legitimacy can polarize public debate in data-driven public consultation

Paper by Alison Powell: “How do data and objectivity become politicized? How do processes intended to include citizen voices instead push them into social media that intensify negative expression? This paper examines the possibility and limits of ‘agonistic data practices’ (Crooks & Currie, 2021) examining how data-driven consultation practices create competing forms of legitimacy for quantifiable knowledge and affective lived experience. Drawing on a two-year study of a private Facebook group self-presenting as a supportive space for working-class people critical of the development of ‘low-traffic neighbourhoods’ (LTNs), the paper reveals how the dynamics of ‘affective polarization’ associated the use of data with elite and exclusionary politics. Participants addressed this by framing their online contributions as ‘vernacular data’ and also by associating numerical data with exclusion and inequality. Over time the strong statements of feeling began to support content of a conspiratorial nature, reflected at the social level of discourse in the broader media environment where stories of strong feeling gain legitimacy in right-wing sources. The paper concludes that ideologies of dataism and practices of datafication may create conditions for political extremism to develop when the potential conditions of ‘agonistic data practices’ are not met, and that consultation processes must avoid overly valorizing data and calculable knowledge if they wish to retain democratic accountability…(More)”.

AI for Good: Applications in Sustainability, Humanitarian Action, and Health

Book by Juan M. Lavista Ferres and William B. Weeks: “…an insightful and fascinating discussion of how one of the world’s most recognizable software companies is tacking intractable social problems with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). In the book, you’ll learn about how climate change, illness and disease, and challenges to fundamental human rights are all being fought using replicable methods and reusable AI code.

The authors also provide:

  • Easy-to-follow, non-technical explanations of what AI is and how it works
  • Examinations of how healthcare is being improved, climate change is being addressed, and humanitarian aid is being facilitated around the world with AI
  • Discussions of the future of AI in the realm of social benefit organizations and efforts

An essential guide to impactful social change with artificial intelligence, AI for Good is a must-read resource for technical and non-technical professionals interested in AI’s social potential, as well as policymakers, regulators, NGO professionals, and, and non-profit volunteers…(More)”.