The Birth of Digital Human Rights


Book by Rebekah Dowd on “Digitized Data Governance as a Human Rights Issue in the EU”: “…This book considers contested responsibilities between the public and private sectors over the use of online data, detailing exactly how digital human rights evolved in specific European states and gradually became a part of the European Union framework of legal protections. The author uniquely examines why and how European lawmakers linked digital data protection to fundamental human rights, something heretofore not explained in other works on general data governance and data privacy. In particular, this work examines the utilization of national and European Union institutional arrangements as a location for activism by legal and academic consultants and by first-mover states who legislated digital human rights beginning in the 1970s. By tracing the way that EU Member States and non-state actors utilized the structure of EU bodies to create the new norm of digital human rights, readers will learn about the process of expanding the scope of human rights protections within multiple dimensions of European political space. The project will be informative to scholar, student, and layperson, as it examines a new and evolving area of technology governance – the human rights of digital data use by the public and private sectors….(More)”.

Public Crowdsourcing: Analyzing the Role of Government Feedback on Civic Digital Platforms


Paper by Lisa Schmidthuber, Dennis Hilgers, and Krithika Randhawa: “Government organizations increasingly use crowdsourcing platforms to interact with citizens and integrate their requests in designing and delivering public services. Government usually provides feedback to individual users on whether the request can be considered. Drawing on attribution theory, this study asks how the causal attributions of the government response affect continued participation in crowdsourcing platforms. To test our hypotheses, we use a 7-year dataset of both online requests from citizens to government and government responses to citizen requests. We focus on citizen requests that are denied by government, and find that stable and uncontrollable attributions of the government response have a negative effect on future participation behavior. Also, a local government’s locus of causality negatively affects continued participation. This study contributes to research on the role of responsiveness in digital interaction between citizens and government and highlights the importance of rationale transparency to sustain citizen participation…(More)”.

Data protection in the context of covid-19. A short (hi)story of tracing applications


Book edited by Elise Poillot, Gabriele Lenzini, Giorgio Resta, and Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich: “The volume presents the results of a research project  (named “Legafight”) funded by the Luxembourg Fond National de la Recherche in order to verify if and how digital tracing applications could be implemented in the Grand-Duchy in order to counter and abate the Covid-19 pandemic. This inevitably brought to a deep comparative overview of the various existing various models, starting from that of the European Union and those put into practice by Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy, with attention also to some Anglo-Saxon approaches (the UK and Australia). Not surprisingly the main issue which had to be tackled was that of the protection of the personal data collected through the tracing applications, their use by public health authorities and the trust laid in tracing procedures by citizens. Over the last 18 months tracing apps have registered a rise, a fall, and a sudden rebirth as mediums devoted not so much to collect data, but rather to distribute real time information which should allow informed decisions and be used as repositories of health certifications…(More)”.

Open health data: Mapping the ecosystem


Paper by Roel Heijlen and Joep Crompvoets: “Governments around the world own multiple datasets related to the policy domain of health. Datasets range from vaccination rates to the availability of health care practitioners in a region to the outcomes of certain surgeries. Health is believed to be a promising subject in the case of open government data policies. However, the specific properties of health data such as its sensibilities regarding privacy, ethics, and ownership encompass particular conditions either enabling or preventing datasets to become freely and easily accessible for everyone…

This paper aims to map the ecosystem of open health data. By analyzing the foundations of health data and the commonalities of open data ecosystems via literature analysis, the socio-technical environment in which health data managed by governments are opened up or potentially stay closed is created. After its theoretical development, the open health data ecosystem is tested via a case study concerning the Data for Better Health initiative from the government of Belgium…

The policy domain of health includes de-identification activities, bioethical assessments, and the specific role of data providers within its open data ecosystem. However, the concept of open data does not always fully apply to the topic of health. Such several health datasets may be findable via government portals but not directly accessible. Differentiation within types of health data and data user capacities are recommendable for future research….(More)”

User-Centricity: What It Means, How It Works, Why It’s Needed


Policy Brief by UserCentriCities project: “.. looks critically at the need for putting citizens at the heart of digital government – and analyses six successful projects in key European cities: Bologna (Emilia Romagna Region), Espoo, Milan, Murcia, Rotterdam and Tallinn. Building on lessons learned in a year of structured interviews with leading officials in the UserCentriCities project, the policy brief looks at key trends driving breakthroughs in digital-service delivery – in the public and private sector – and proposes a five-point roadmap for greater Europe-national-local collaboration in the service of citizens. The policy brief will launch at The 2021 UserCentriCities Summit, in the presence of Boštjan Koritnik, minister for public administration of Slovenia, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union….(More)”.

How behavioral science could get people back into public libraries


Article by Talib Visram: “In October, New York City’s three public library systems announced they would permanently drop fines on late book returns. Comprised of Brooklyn, Queens, and New York public libraries, the City’s system is the largest in the country to remove fines. It’s a reversal of a long-held policy intended to ensure shelves stayed stacked, but an outdated one that many major cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas, had already scrapped without any discernible downsides. Though a source of revenue—in 2013, for instance, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) racked up $1.9 million in late fees—the fee system also created a barrier to library access that disproportionately touched the low-income communities that most need the resources.

That’s just one thing Brooklyn’s library system has done to try to make its services more equitable. In 2017, well before the move to eliminate fines, BPL on its own embarked on a partnership with Nudge, a behavioral science lab at the University of West Virginia, to find ways to reduce barriers to access and increase engagement with the book collections. In the first-of-its-kind collaboration, the two tested behavioral science interventions via three separate pilots, all of which led to the library’s long-term implementation of successful techniques. Those involved in the project say the steps can be translated to other library systems, though it takes serious investment of time and resources….(More)”.

Not all data are created equal -Data sharing and privacy


Paper by Michiel Bijlsma, Carin van der Cruijsen and Nicole Jonker: “The COVID-19 pandemic has increased our online presence and unleashed a new discussion on sharing sensitive personal data. Upcoming European legislation will facilitate data sharing in several areas, following the lead of the revised payments directive (PSD2), which enables payments data sharing with third parties. However, little is known about what drives consumers’ preferences with different types of data, as preferences may differ according to the type of data, type of usage or type of firm using the data.

Using a discrete-choice survey approach among a representative group of Dutch consumers, we find that next to health data, people are hesitant to share their financial data on payments, wealth and pensions, compared to other types of consumer data. Second, consumers are especially cautious about sharing their data when they are not used anonymously. Third, consumers are more hesitant to share their data with BigTechs, webshops and insurers than they are with banks. Fourth, a financial reward can trigger data sharing by consumers. Last, we show that attitudes towards data usage depend on personal characteristics, consumers’ digital skills, online behaviour and their trust in the firms using the data…(More)”

Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age: A Briefing For Potential Research Collaborators


About: “Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age (TPSDA) is an international collaboration of scholars and practitioners focused on increasing the number of public servants who have the fundamental skills they need to succeed in the digital era. …TPSDA’s primary approach to making social impact is to help educators teach critical new skills to current and future public servants. We do this by developing and sharing open access teaching materials, and by actively teaching and networking with educators who want to deliver better digital era skills to their students, whether in universities or in governments.

Thus far we have published two key sets of materials, which are available free of charge on our website:

  • A set of Digital Era Competencies, describing the minimum capabilities all public services leaders now need to have.
  • A full syllabus developed for use by MPP and MPA lecturers, professors and program directors. This syllabus has already been translated into German, and is now being translated into Spanish, by members of our community….

The content of TPSDA’s competencies and syllabus is largely based on a set of hypotheses about the skills and knowledge that public servants need for the digital age. These hypotheses emerge from a sort of modern craft tradition: they reflect accepted best practice in leading digital era workplaces, and have been largely validated in the private sector….(More)”.

Open Science: the Very Idea


Book by Frank Miedema: “This open access book provides a broad context for the understanding of current problems of science and of the different movements aiming to improve the societal impact of science and research. 

The author offers insights with regard to ideas, old and new, about science, and their historical origins in philosophy and sociology of science, which is of interest to a broad readership. The book shows that scientifically grounded knowledge is required and helpful in understanding intellectual and political positions in various discussions on the grand challenges of our time and how science makes impact on society. The book reveals why interventions that look good or even obvious, are often met with resistance and are hard to realize in practice. 

Based on a thorough analysis, as well as personal experiences in aids research, university administration and as a science observer, the author provides – while being totally open regarding science’s limitations- a realistic narrative about how research is conducted, and how reliable ‘objective’ knowledge is produced. His idea of science, which draws heavily on American pragmatism, fits in with the global Open Science movement. It is argued that Open Science is a truly and historically unique movement in that it translates the analysis of the problems of science into major institutional actions of system change in order to improve academic culture and the impact of science, engaging all actors in the field of science and academia…(More)”.

Beyond pilots: sustainable implementation of AI in public services


Report by AI Watch: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a peculiar case of General Purpose Technology that differs from other examples in history because it embeds specific uncertainties or ambiguous character that may lead to a number of risks when used to support transformative solutions in the public sector. AI has extremely powerful and, in many cases, disruptive effects on the internal management, decision-making and service provision processes of public administration….

This document first introduces the concept of AI appropriation in government, seen as a sequence of two logically distinct phases, respectively named adoption and implementation of related technologies in public services and processes. Then, it analyses the situation of AI governance in the US and China and contrasts it to an emerging, truly European model, rooted in a systemic vision and with an emphasis on the revitalised role of the member states in the EU integration process, Next, it points out some critical challenges to AI implementation in the EU public sector, including: the generation of a critical mass of public investments, the availability of widely shared and suitable datasets, the improvement of AI literacy and skills in the involved staff, and the threats associated with the legitimacy of decisions taken by AI algorithms alone. Finally, it draws a set of common actions for EU decision-makers willing to undertake the systemic approach to AI governance through a more advanced equilibrium between AI promotion and regulation.

The three main recommendations of this work include a more robust integration of AI with data policies, facing the issue of so-called “explainability of AI” (XAI), and broadening the current perspectives of both Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) and Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) at the service of smart AI purchasing by the EU public administration. These recommendations will represent the baseline for a generic implementation roadmap for enhancing the use and impact of AI in the European public sector….(More)”.