For all you democracy devotees and civic tech connoisseurs, here’s our brand-new weekly reading list!

This week we’re discussing city health, AI, training the leaders of today, populism, and a phenomenon called “government sinkholes.” Intrigued? Let’s dive right in!

How city life affects your health and happiness” by BBC

At this moment, 55% of the world population lives in rural areas. A recent study has compared the air we breathe in our cities to “smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 29 years”, but air pollution is also making us more anxious, less smart, less wealthy, and more prone to obesity.

This article dives deeper into the effects that air pollution has on the world’s urbanites. What’s even more interesting is that it also explores how we can make our cities better places to live. A must-read for government officials in large, polluted cities, but also every city-kid who cherishes their lungs.

The Time for AI Is Now. Here’s Why” by SingularityHub

“AI is reinventing the way we invent”, says this article. For some of us, AI still sounds like a futuristic development. Besides, it’s mostly associated with the sectors of finance, technology and health. But as this article states, a “better AI-powered future for humanity (…) is already here.”

This article explores the rapid evolution of AI tools across various sectors, and even more importantly, how we can ensure its ethical use. A must-read for everyone interested in how new technology could shape the future – or tomorrow.

Public Entrepreneurship: How to train 21st century leaders” by Apolitical

In this opinion piece, Beth Noveck, Professor in Technology, Culture and Society and Director of the Governance Lab at NY University, explores the way the public sector needs to change.

To build a more efficient public sector and reinforce citizens’ trust in their governmental institutions, the public leaders of the 21st century need new and different skills. And that also means they need to be trained differently.

In this article, Noveck dives deeper into the nature and skill set of the ideal 21st century public leader. A must-read for everyone working in the public sector.

Is populism about more than discontent?” by LSE

Populist parties are at peak popularity: they’ve tripled their vote share in Europe in the last two decades.

But while populist votes are often seen as protest or “anti” votes, this article argues that this is not always the case. “Citizens with stronger populist attitudes are, all else being equal, not more (or less) likely to stay at home than their counterparts with weaker populist attitudes,” states the article.

So where do populist sentiments and attitudes come from, and how do they manifest? This article investigates the nature of populist ideals on a deeper level. A must-read for everyone who’s interested in politics and political sentiments in general.

Governance sinkholes” by Nesta

“As currents of change erode old structures, and as tectonic plates shift, new holes and gaps appear. These are the places where new rules, and new kinds of organisation, are needed but are missing.”

This is how this Nesta article defines the phenomenon of “governance sinkholes.” Besides a plethora of possibilities, new technologies also reveal gaps in governance that need to be filled ASAP. And that’s where the challenge lies, because governance sinkholes appear everywhere, from data management over healthcare to cybersecurity. A must-read for everyone interested in how evolution in one area reveals missing pieces of the puzzle in others.

That’s it for this week! If you’re looking for more, download our comprehensive e-guides on participatory budgeting or inclusion in e-democracy. Ready to leap? Contact our experts to get started with digital participation in your city!

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