Digital Societies - What we do

A project worker approaches volunteers, Nigeria, 2019. Photo credit: Photos by KC Nwakalor for USAID / Digital Development Communications (CC BY 2.0)

The integration of digital technologies into society poses a new set of opportunities and challenges for governments, citizens and states. Perhaps for the first time countries across the world, all at different points in their development, face the same questions at the same time. Our team combines expertise on policy, research, communication and evaluation, working alongside governments, citizens and states to build successful digital societies.

Governments urgently need to develop appropriate policy frameworks for successful digital societies. These frameworks will need to enable the provision of digital public services, designed and delivered in different ways to the past. They must support economies which provide jobs and growth in an era of automation. They will also have to prevent AI, big data and digital identity from discriminating against or marginalising people.

Citizens will need to be properly informed and able to consent to decisions being made on their behalf by policymakers and by private sector organisations. New technologies are capable of erasing personal privacy and liberty in a way which requires a new social contract. Alongside their rights citizens will need to assume new responsibilities in an era of disinformation and big data. In the world of work technology will demand new skills from people seeking to secure their livelihood within a digital economy.

States will need to maintain security and influence by navigating a geopolitical environment in which power is earned and exercised through digital capabilities in infrastructure development, information manipulation and cyberconflict. Borders will be harder to maintain as language barriers come down, trans-boundary risks increase and notions of digital sovereignty and digital colonialism gain increased salience.