What is it about?
This paper aims to spark a debate by presenting the need for developing data ecosystems in Europe that meet the social and public good while committing to democratic and ethical standards; suggesting a taxonomy of data infrastructures and institutions to support this need; using the case study of Barcelona as the flagship city trailblazing a critical policy agenda of smart cities to show the limitations and contradictions of the current state of affairs; and ultimately, proposing a preliminary roadmap for institutional and governance empowerment that could enable effective data ecosystems in Europe.
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Why is it important?
This paper, drawing from lessons learned from the Barcelona case study, elucidates on the need to establish pan-European data infrastructures and institutions – collectively data ecosystems – to protect citizens’ digital rights in European cities and regions. The paper reveals three main priorities proposing a preliminary roadmap for local and regional governments, namely, advocacy, suggesting the need for city and regional networks; governance, requiring guidance and applied, neutral and non-partisan research in policy; and pan-European agencies, leading and mobilising data infrastructures and institutions at the European level.
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This page is a summary of: Data ecosystems for protecting European citizens’ digital rights, Transforming Government People Process and Policy, April 2020, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/tg-03-2020-0047.
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Barcelona's grassroots-led urban experimentation: Deciphering the 'data commons' policy scheme
Smart city policy approaches have been gradually transitioning in parallel with data policy regulations. This is the case for Barcelona, which has been executing its policy framework called ‘data commons’ with the goal of further grassroots-led urban experimentations. This paper examines to what extent the new paradigm of ‘data commons’ will remain and even be reinforced, given the ongoing local elections and the volatile political and regional context of the upcoming May 2019 elections. In doing so, this paper elaborates on the steps Barcelona has been taking, given the new ‘Declaration of Cities Coalition for Digital Rights’ signed by Barcelona, Amsterdam, and New York. Nonetheless, as a result and continuation of previous published fieldwork research, by applying the Penta Helix framework from a social innovation perspective, this paper questions why several implementations are being consolidated while others actually show a tension between two different models: ‘platform capitalism’ vs ‘platform co-operativism’. In regard to the former model, permanent strikes provoked by the Elite Taxi BCN association in August 2018 in response to the aftermath of big tech companies Cabify and Uber initially cleared to operate in Barcelona by the regional government, have demonstrated the negative side-effects of ‘platform capitalism’. By contrast, Som Energia is a successful case study based on the latter innovative business model, ‘platform co-operativism’, stemming from grassroots-led urban experimentation. This paper concludes by suggesting a synthesis regarding the ongoing platform revolution at stake, in light of the need for democratic accountability.
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