vrijdag 19 juni 2020

Public Values and Technology in the Corona Crisis


How do we ensure that the technologies that are being deployed in the corona crisis respect public values such as democracy, human dignity, privacy, equality and sustainability?

All over Europe, municipalities want to become ‘smart cities’, front-runners in the use of sensors, big data, algorithms and apps. Smart technologies offer opportunities for improving the quality of life in cities, for reducing their ecological footprint and for creating new urban commons. But they may also present threats to civil liberties and to social justice. The smart city should not be an end in itself. A smart city is only really smart if data collection and artificial intelligence are steered by values. How do we ensure that public values such as democracy, human dignity, privacy, equality and sustainability are put at the heart of smart cities, especially in times of crisis?

This webinar will gather experts, practitioners, activists and (local) politicians. The online discussions will cover two mornings. Participants can choose to take part in one session or in both sessions. The webinar takes the Green European Foundation’s Charter for the Smart City as a starting point. The results of the webinar will feed into the online version of the Charter.


June 19th 11:00 – 13:00 CEST

  • Presentation of the Charter for the Smart City, value-led development of technology and its relevance in times of corona by Richard Wouters (Wetenschappelijk Bureau GroenLinks, Netherlands), followed by discussion.
  • Presentation on digital surveillance by prof. Maria Madi (specialist in the digital economy and innovation philosophy, Brazil), followed by discussion. Will the corona crisis take the surveillance of citizens and workers to new heights? Can and should we counter this tendency? Is there a role for local politics?

June 20th 11:00 – 13:00 CEST

  • Presentations on digital innovations by Monika Sobiecki (barrister specialising in digital technology, data and AI law, United Kingdom), Vandana Shiva (scholar and environmental activist, India) and Dorothy Nalubega (minority rights activist, feminist and environmentalist, Uganda), followed by discussion. The corona crisis has given a boost to the digitalisation of work, commerce, education and social life. How do we deal with the socio-economic inequalities which arise from this? Can we prevent Big Tech from becoming even more powerful? What role for local politics?
  • Presentations on a Green New Deal, by Natalie Bennett (green member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom) and Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart (director of the green foundation Strefa Zieleni, Poland), followed by discussion. The economic crisis and the climate crisis must be tackled simultaneously. Does this create new opportunities for green technologies? What role for local politics?


The webinar will use the Zoom video conferencing platform. It is recommended to join the webinar via a PC. You do not need to install additional software. However, for the best user experience and full participation features, we recommend to install the Zoom Desktop App, which is free.


This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. You can register via the Green Economics Institute website.


The Charter for the Smart City is available on the website of the Green European Foundation. Click here to download.