One aspect we highlighted in one of our last Insights articles was that digitalisation efforts should be on top of decision-makers’ agendas when it comes to raising democracy to a new level. That’s why we want to shed some light on what political decision-makers need to consider for the digital transformation of democracy.
1 Educate yourself on technology
During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen governments using tech to manage the crisis: from using AI to measure people’s temperature to organising tech competitions to find solutions to pressing problems. We have regularly witnessed how politicians struggled to explain technology-related issues and provide good answers to related moral questions. To become, or remain, trusted leaders and to achieve better democratic outcomes, politicians at all levels need to develop an in-depth understanding of a technology’s applications and criteria. Justin Trudeau’s explanation of Quantum Computing provides a glimpse into what is desirable.
2 Look at challenges through the eyes of citizens
The ways technology can make the lives of citizens easier are manifold. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, governments implemented chatbots to answer citizens’ questions, or installed digitally equipped cabins to make it possible for citizens to interact with government officers. Methods such as Design Thinking can support politicians and policy-makers to take a citizen-centred perspective in designing digital services.
3 Define how you want technology to improve your political work
Technology has the potential to improve civic engagement and democratic processes. But it also can open new ways for citizens to contribute to the work of politicians. Politicians should consider how to involve citizens in political agenda-setting, in crowdsource policies or in monitoring the effectiveness of policies. Thus, politicians need to analyse how civic participation could improve their political work and how technology could to make that possible.
4 Learn from best practice examples
Political decision-makers often spend precious resources to develop unique projects. As an alternative, looking at proven projects which already work elsewhere can be effective. Numerous sources, initiatives and reports have proved valuable in supporting politicians to deduce learnings and success factors from innovative best practices for their own regions and communities.
To act as trusted political leaders in a democracy in the digital age, and to be successful in drafting and negotiating bills under pressure at national and regional levels, politicians and political staff need to be open to technology and to prepare themselves for new challenges.