Life as a digital citizen

A young women uses her phone, Nigeria, 2019. Photo: KC Nwakalor for USAID/Digital Development CC BY 2.0

Digital technologies will create new expectations from citizens who need to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to play their role in creating successful digital societies. At the same time, a new social contract will be needed to address changes in the rights and responsibilities that come with digital citizenship and avoid discrimination, marginalisation and growing inequalities.

We are part of an emerging ecosystem looking at radical new ways of delivering public services via digital platforms, often underpinned by new digital identities. We are committed to identifying risks which come with the application of digital technologies in society such as unintended consequences of algorithmic decision-making and the gradual erosion of privacy through surveillance. Our work, in partnership with the International Economic Development Group (IEDG) addresses how to mitigate these risks and aims to further understanding about how to give citizens the right skills to secure work in a digital society. We also work with other ODI teams to examine the information and agency citizens should expect to possess in a successful digital society. 

Using almost sixty years of global expertise across ODI, we work with colleagues across the institute and a wide range of local partners in Africa, South America and Asia to understand citizen perspectives on what successful digital societies should look like. Using those perspectives, we actively seek to inform local, regional and multilateral conversations about the future of our digital societies within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals and beyond.