PPMI team, in collaboration with other members of the DigiGov consortium (Open Evidence, Politecnico di Milano and Rand Europe) has completed the JRC study “Exploring Digital Government Transformation in the EU: understanding public sector innovation in a data-driven society”.
The key aim of the study was to explore the latest changes in the way public governing is perceived and exercised, by taking into account the new digital technologies including artificial intelligence and big data. The team has developed a conceptual framework, implemented several case studies and suggested scenarios for the future. The underlying conclusion is that the public sector is being reimagined in various (yet contested) ways as ubiquitous service provider, which is also expected to make sure that people understand what is going on, feel involved and feel ownership of public decisions. It is partly normative and partly pragmatic understanding of the ongoing transformation, which assumes a rather optimistic scenario built on participation, trust and open innovation. Nevertheless, dystopian scenarios are also plausible, if governments use the new technologies to exercise social control or online platforms manage to turn their market power into political power. The empirical case studies revealed a mixed picture, providing both examples of innovative use of technology as well as its limits. Eventually, the realisation of one or another scenario will depend on a variety of factors, including societal leadership, administrative capacity and the resilience of societies in view of trends towards fragmentation and informational echo chambers.