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  • Research Line 3 – Participation, people, and communities

    New technologies change the nature of work, everyday life and leisure, and how people interact with each other and with government authorities. They provide innovative ways for governments to keep people and communities informed and understand their needs and views. Versatile digital identity mechanisms, intelligent public service delivery models, and the design and test of communitarian participatory processes (from online petition platforms to mass deliberation systems) are examples. Such technologies facilitate greater participation in governance. There is a need to understand the behavioural changes that are being wrought both in society at large and in the specific context of Electronic Governance and Digital Transformation.

    At the same time, new technologies have exacerbated inequalities, particularly because of unequal access to devices and infrastructure as well as the requisite skills. New digital technologies have created privacy threats, have been used to influence people’s opinions and actions, and have in many cases worsened the quality of life of the people that use them. Consequently, it is necessary to understand how new technologies may increase inequality, create risks and erode social values, and ultimately decrease quality of life so that governments can regulate and use technology responsibly and support better human societies.

    The third research line – Participation, people, and communities – puts the human being at the heart of e-Governance and Digital Transformation, addressing issues such as poverty and inequality, human insecurity and exclusion in all its dimensions and the goals of happiness and wellbeing. Much of the work in electronic government and smart cities originated in a technology-centric vision, focused on the opportunities for using technology for efficiency and to improve quality of life. This research line examines how to move beyond this focus to explore strategies for the active participation of people and communities in digital transformation. It places equity and social inclusion issues at the heart of research and policy work, adopting a cultural, human-centred approach.

    Projects and Publications

    Ongoing and past projects related to Research Line 3 are available here, while publications from UNU as a whole can be found here.