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On May 5th IOG held its first ever fully virtual Policy Crunch event. Appropriately, the topic for the evening was “the future of digital governance in a post-pandemic world”. We had a fascinating group of experts join us for the online panel: Jaimie Boyd (Government of BC), David Eaves (Harvard), Shingai Manjengwa (Fireside Analytics & Vector Institute), and Jesse Hirsh (Metaviews.ca), with IOG’s Director of Digital Leadership Ryan Androsoff moderating. A lot was covered in an hour, but here are some key issues that surfaced through the discussion:
– The rapid move to digital services, online work, and even digitally empowered democracy is opening up new possibilities, but also the very real risk of leaving some citizens behind. Particularly some of the most vulnerable and those living in remote communities who can’t always take connectivity for granted in the same way that the 80% of Canadians who live in urban areas do. Digital inclusion is more important than ever now.
– As part of the solution to address the digital inclusion gap, efforts to improve digital skills at all levels must become a public policy priority: in schools, in government, amongst seniors, and across all sectors of society.
– Governments that already had strong digital teams and had established good digital practices (i.e. user-centered research, agile and open source software development) are doing the best in adapting to the digital service demands that they have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s tough to learn fundamentally new ways of working in the midst of a crisis!
– Expect to see AI increasingly incorporated into the health care sector given the ongoing pressures it will be facing. This is going to pose real issues around how these technologies are regulated in sensitive sectors, and government and industry should find ways to collaborate on the responsible use of these tools.
– There are very real privacy concerns about the use of digital technology (i.e. contact tracing apps) to fight the pandemic. There appears to be significant public support and potential public health benefits, but policy makers must figure out how to ensure appropriate protections and limits, and civil society needs to hold them accountable.
Our next Virtual Policy Crunch will be held on June 2nd on the topic of energy transitions; you can sign up for it here.
Watch the panel portion of the crunch below!
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