Context-specific PSD considers the uniqueness of the national, local or sectoral context to achieve the best match between the circumstances where a public service is delivered, the needs of the target audience and the standard of PSD agreed across contexts. An example is the UK Government’s “Delivering Differently in Neighbourhoods” programme that provides financial support and expert advice to local authorities in redesigning and co-delivering services at the local and neighborhood levels. Context-specific PSD requires various forms of innovation: creating and maintaining eco-systems of government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, universities, citizens and other actors that participate in the provision, consumption and intermediation in PSD; bringing services closer to consumers through, e.g. the provision of multi-service centers and the use of diverse delivery channels; learning about PSD locally and from around the word and adapting the knowledge to the local contexts; and digitizing PSD, tailoring services to individual needs, and delivering them through various digital channels using new social and organizational models.
The focus of the project is on digital innovation for context-specific PSD. The project will analyse PSD systems used in different national, local and sectoral contexts, including inputs from the United Nations Public Service Award, identify critical factors affecting the performance of PSD systems and how such factors differ from context to context, and examine how digital technology and digital innovation could be used to transform such systems and enhance their performance. The project will collect research findings; develop cases of digital innovation in context-specific PSD; propose policy recommendations for digital innovation in PSD ready for adaptation to different local and sectoral contexts; run two pilots to validate such recommendations in Portugal and Colombia; develop courseware on digital innovation in context-specific PSD, and deliver such courseware to Government Chief Information Officers and their counterparts responsible for Administrative Modernization in Portugal, Colombia and other countries.
There are several urbanization models that incorporate digital technologies to address some of the urbanization and sustainability challenges: Digital Cities feature the integration of digital technology into the city’s core infrastructure systems; Intelligent Cities rely on the digital city infrastructure to build intelligent buildings, transportation systems, schools, enterprises, public spaces, public services, etc. and to integrate them into intelligent urban systems; and Smart Cities – deploy intelligent urban systems at the service of socio-economic development and improving urban quality of life. Smart City initiatives can help overcome the limitations of traditional urban development that tends to manage urban infrastructure systems in silos. By leveraging the pervasive character of data and services offered by digital technologies, such as Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, or Open Data, they help connect different city stakeholders, improve citizen involvement, offer new and enhance existing services, and provide context-aware views on city operations. Smart City development is, however, highly complex, challenging and context-specific. The challenges include different discourses used by technologists and policymakers, lack of capacity to connect urban sustainability challenges to actionable approaches, and pressures on social and territorial cohesion requiring unique governance solutions.
Funded by International Development Research Center (IDRC), this project conducted a reconnaissance study that examined a thesis that Smart Cities can advance Sustainable Development. The study examined 876 scientific publications, policy recommendations issued by 51 think tank organizations, and 119 Smart City initiatives, and conducted 7 interviews with urban policymakers, managers and researchers. Based on the analysis, the study concluded that Smart Cities have a lot of potential for the circumstances of many developing countries but this potential is not being fully utilized, and a number of structural factors could actually widen the gap between the potential and reality. In terms of research capacity, only 12% of the most published Smart City researchers are from developing countries. In terms of policy capacity, only 8% is the Smart City policy organizations are based in developing countries. Weak research capacity can hinder the contextualization required for Smart City initiatives. Lack of indigenous policy organizations means that developing countries tend to adopt policy frameworks provided by and tested in developed countries, which may not be optimal, or even desirable for their own circumstances. The full report produced by the project documents and substantiates such findings, and provides a number of policy recommendations and a research agenda framework for Smart Sustainable Cities.
Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) is a position embedded in an increasing number of government organizations at the national and local levels, responsible for building and managing digital capabilities within the organization, for strategically aligning such capabilities with existing business objectives, and for leading the organization towards adopting new objectives made possible by digital technology. Despite the emergence of other technology leadership positions in government like Chief Technology Officer, Chief Enterprise Architect, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Knowledge Officer, etc. the requirement of a single GCIO role to represent and coordinate all aspects of the government information technology function vis-à-vis other functions like planning, finances, human resources, operations, etc. is firmly recognized.
It is also recognized that GCIOs operate under very different conditions that their private sector counterparts, and their performance, directly influencing the performance of the entire technology function in government, should be strengthened with professional membership, education, formal authority and organizational support. The difficulty with professional GCIO education is that it requires building capabilities for both leadership and continued learning, delivering a mix of leading-edge technological, organizational and policy know-how, and delivering a balanced specialist-generalist (depth versus breadth) curriculum. Few universities in high-income countries, not talking about developing countries where the demand for competent GCIO is particularly high, have the in-house expertise, experience and capacity to deliver such education.
Recognizing the importance of the GCIO function, the Colombian Government enacted in 2014 the legislation to establish GCIO positions in the executive branch of government, and established the PEGEL (Excellence in Electronic Government) programme to enable the development of university and practitioner networks to support continuing formal and informal education of Colombian GCIO professionals. The purpose of this project is to carry out a set of activities focused on building institutional capacity for education and peer-to-peer support to GCIO professionals. These activities comprise: 1) designing a network of universities to deliver GCIO-related education programmes; 2) designing education programmes to build and maintain GCIO-related competencies at different levels; 3) defining, assessing and recognizing various education and career paths that lead to further development of GCIO competencies; and 4) designing a peer-to-peer network for GCIO practitioners to share their experience and know-how.
There are four main reasons why countries around the world are concerned with Knowledge Society construction. First, the public sector can be a key agent in orienting the society towards a new model of social and economic organization, based on information and knowledge and sustained by digital technologies. Second, in order to appropriate the opportunities for innovation which evolve from the fast technological progress and from the production and circulation of information and knowledge, while reducing inequity and attaining better social and digital inclusion, public policies that balance economic and social development must be developed, implemented, assessed, and periodically updated. Third, governments at all levels undergo a transformation through intensive use of digital technology that result in greater transparency and efficiency, improved interactions with citizens, and a model for the rest of the society to embrace socially-appropriate digital technology, information and knowledge. Fourth, businesses, citizen organizations and other non-government stakeholders are all involved in building sectors of Knowledge Societies and adapting them to the national, regional or local contexts. The coordination of these four factors and balancing of different dimensions of sustainable development depending on the context require guidance from Knowledge Society Policies.
Knowledge Society Policy considers the overall responsibility of the state in steering and coordinating the construction and permanent development of a Knowledge Society suited to each country’s context, specificities, needs, and potentials. Such a policy shows the objectives, intentions and engagements of government and other stakeholders concerning Knowledge Society development, allowing citizens to measure and appraise or criticize the achievements of these stakeholders. The policy is a culmination of a public discussion that relates access and social appropriation of digital technologies with public policy-making. The project responds to the scarcity of methodological support to guide the development and implementation of Knowledge Society Policies, by offering a Handbook to support national, regional, and local-level governments working with businesses, community organizations and other non-government stakeholders in creating, implementing and updating such instruments.
The project has three objectives, First, to update the publication “National Information Society Policy: A Template”, produced by UNESCO/IFAP in 2009, and transform it into the “Knowledge Society Policy Handbook”. Second, to convert this updated publication into a digital platform for knowledge sharing to host tools, demos, policy resources, case studies, life discussions, and online trainings to support Member States in the development, review and implementation of their Knowledge Society policies and strategies. Third, to support the development of a global research and policy community including contributors, adopters, and users, around this platform. The Handbook will provide general information and detailed guidance on the formulation of Knowledge Societies policies, supported by examples of implemented public policies, processes, mechanisms and information sources at different levels. Adaptable to countries in different contexts and development levels, and lending itself to implementation by different governmental bodies in coordination with non-government stakeholders, the Handbook will provide a “how to” guide aimed at preparing and updating a Knowledge Society Policy proposal.
One of the commitments agreed by the UN member states as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to ensure that all people, including people with disabilities, have access to lifelong learning opportunities that will help them to acquire the needed competencies to participate fully in the society. According to the World Health Organization, people living with disabilities constitute the world’s largest minority – 1 billion people, 80% of whom live in developing countries. The World Bank reports that 20% of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability, and UNESCO highlights that 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend any school.
Digital technology is increasingly applied as a tool to increase social inclusion and assist people with disabilities. Regarding access to education, good practices exist in applying digital technologies to support personal access to information and knowledge, teaching and learning, personal communication and interaction, and access to educational procedures. In particular, focusing on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the UNESCO Model Policy for Inclusive ICT in Education for Persons with Disabilities (UNESCO Model Policy) provides a reference model to assist countries in formulating inclusive education frameworks adapted to each country’s specific conditions. The UNESCO Model Policy is currently being applied for developing the Policy on Inclusive ICTs in Education for Uganda (Policy for Uganda).
The aim of the project is to build a digital platform to accompany the UNESCO Model Policy and support the monitoring and evaluation of the recently designed Policy for Uganda. The project will conduct research on policy monitoring and evaluation and on accessible technologies; based on the research findings and case studies, develop initial requirements for the digital platform to support the UNESCO Model Policy; localize such requirements with stakeholders from Uganda to monitor the Policy for Uganda; develop courseware on monitoring and evaluation of policies on accessible digital technologies in education; and deliver such courseware in Uganda.