Every month, we curate a list of interesting articles and thought pieces within the realm of Civic Tech and digital democracy.

COVID-inspired tech innovations, AI and European regulations affecting privacy, and Londoners deciding on the usage of their data: data and tech were the talks of the town this month. We finish off our list with a conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement and a closer look at cooperative cities during the quarantine.

1. “Has the pandemic sparked GovTech innovation?” by Tech HQ

During the pandemic, technology took centre stage more than ever before. It allowed many of our sectors, including the public sector, to keep running and providing necessary services. As this article states, “the demands of the pandemic have highlighted the need for public bodies to embrace technology that can support continuity, recovery and longer-term benefits in efficiency and convenience, both for citizens and workers alike.”

While many of the innovations that were implemented during the pandemic were part of crisis response, it has never been more clear that tech is a crucial element in running a country and ensuring the wellbeing of its citizens. A must-read for techies and digicrats.

2. “AI Could Help Solve the Privacy Problems It Has Created” by GovTech

The rise and success of Artificial Intelligence technology are mostly attributable to the availability of massive amounts of personal data, which has understandably raised privacy concerns. As a result, the public is usually wary of AI, with 49% of people in this Brookings study saying they believe that AI will harm their privacy.

According to this article, the truth is not quite as black and white. AI can play a significant role in solving privacy issues as well, for example, by flagging suspicious activity and avoiding hacks. Still, it’s important to make AI as privacy-friendly as possible. How? This article suggests three different approaches: uncertainty, vulnerability, and preservation. A must-read for AI-enthusiasts.

3. “The end of Privacy Shield spells trouble for Brexit Britain” by Wired

It has been one of the European Commission’s long-time missions to ensure free data flows between the EU and the US. But a new ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has now invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield, complicating the EU-US data flows that are the foundation of many economic and digital trade activities. According to the ECJ, “the US is not a safe haven for EU citizens’ data due to disproportionate surveillance practices.

This ruling could affect the UK as well, as it might directly impact EU-UK data flows post-Brexit. The invalidation of the Privacy Shield and the disruption of these data flows could make it significantly more complicated to use Gmail, have video calls on Zoom, or run CRM on Salesforce. A must-read for all US and UK tech corporations.

4. “Cooperative Cities in Quarantine” by Cooperative City Magazine

How does a cooperative city operate in the middle of a global pandemic? How has the coronavirus impacted the different facets of our societies and communities? Cooperative City Magazine decided to find out. In a series of interviews with experts within various social fields, they uncover the true impact of a city in quarantine.

From culture over education to mobility, this series covers the challenges, innovations, and solutions that were brought to light during the pandemic. A must-read for quarantined city-dwellers.

5. “Accountability, Growth, and Inspiration in the BLM Movement” by Civic Hall

“It’s not a contest. This is work we all have to do, so understand where the privilege starts.” So far, 2020 has brought us not only a deadly pandemic but also global outrage about systemic racism. In this article, Civic Hall opens a conversation with two of its ambassadors, Tysha Vulcain-Murrell and Asher Novek, about the Black Lives Matter movement, accountability, and how to move forward towards an equitable future. A must-read for everyone.

6. “Londoners have their say on how their health data is used” by Digital Health

During a 4-day OneLondon Citizens’ Summit, 100 Londoners were asked to voice their opinions about the use of their health and care data. The participants were selected to be representative of London’s diverse population. The results included “a strong endorsement for joining-up health and care data to support individual care as well as proactive care, service planning and research.

There is huge potential to harness health and care data in a safe and secure way, in order to improve Londoners’ wellbeing while protecting their privacy,” says Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer. The citizens’ final recommendations will shape the local data policy. A must-read for every Londoner.


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