Barcelona civic techs go Digital

The City of Barcelona Hosts Policy Workshop Sessions on Data Sovereignty

The City of Barcelona’s BCN Digital programme hosted February 7 at the CCCB a policy workshop entitled Data Sovereignty for a Collaborative Economy, which gathered over 120 activists, developers and practictioners to share their experiences and present the latest developments on social and economic innovation initiatives.

The workshop and the ensuing breakout sessions were inaugurated by Fabrizio Sestini of the European Commission’s directorate general for digital communications and the single digital market (DG CONNECT) in the framework of the EC CAPS programme (for Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation), which has allocated 60 million Euro for the creation and launching of citizen engagement online platforms and open democracy initiatives across Europe since 2013.

Gerardo Pisarello, first deputy mayor of Barcelona hightlighted the importance of the Ateneus de fabricació and the Fab Labs for the innovation of the human habitat throughout the social fabric of cities, and announced the birth of first generation collective platforms where cities can control and own their data. “Digital techs are essential to address social challenges and the digital divide in our communities, as well as to balance inequities arising from the comparatively larger investment in the military and business intelligence sectors of the economy”, said the deputy mayor.

For Francesca Bria, Barcelona’s technology and social innovation commissioner, cities can do a lot to grow and scale up digital social innovation by co-creating and shaping its policies. “It is a matter of maximizing public return and social impact, while also reflecting on what kind of digital Europe we are building”, she said. She also welcomed the partnerhips between the cities of Amsterdam and Barcelona in their undertakings on social and collaborative platforms based on networks.

Data encryption and the protection of whistbleblowers when citizens denounce corruption schemes in their communities rose as a main topic throughout the sessions. Likewise, the need for establishing rules on algorithm transparency as computer-driven metrics permeate every aspect of citizens’ lives (including constituencies, their right to public information and their polling choices during political campaigns) also emerged as a key issue to be addressed.

The Catalan version of the Digital Social Innovation website was also presented during the opening event at CCCB. DSI is a community of 1.199 organisations using digital technologies to tackle social challenges. Its main functions are to showcase the work of social initiatives and find other projects, provide a listing of events and funding opportunities, and disseminate news about the latest technology trends and initiatives in the Fab City ecosystem.