Digitisation of public services and European digital sovereignty

In the province of Alicante (Spain), all levels of governm ent are working to position this territory as innovative and attractive to business. Our mission is to becom e the t echnological capit al of t he Medit erranean. This is an ambitious goal that requires coordinated efforts. We have plenty of space in which com panies can set up and good physical and communications infrastructure, such as a high-speed train network and one of the most important airports in Spain. In addition, Alicante is home to one of the most important European Union agencies: the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

The main mission of the Diputación de Alicante in terms of digitisation is to continue promoting the implementation of technology in the province?s administration as well as knowledge of digital skills among citizens and the em ployability of societ y. For this reason, we have established a hub for the transfer of knowledge and promotion of digitisation with the public universities of Alicante and Elch e; this is called the Cent er for Digital Intelligence.

Increasingly, large data-processing platforms are being implemented thanks to their adoption by public ser vices. An exam ple is sm art meters for supplies such as water, gas and electricity. In addition, sensors in car parks enable the optimisation of city traffic. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic can be automated thanks to the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to optimise traffic light m anagem ent. T

The big data of public Wi-Fi networks can tell us, in an anonym ised way, the interests of the people who connect to these networks. In addition, the use of digital administration can predetermine the great est demands of the citizenry.

Adrián Ballest er Espinosa

Th ese are some innovative exam ples of ways in which governm ents can m ake use of digitisation and, in the case of the Diputación de Alicante we are doing so.

In addition, it is essent ial that the increasingly huge numbers of data can be made available by governm ents to the public for their use and control. Governm ents that increase their transparency and open data will undergo greater scrutiny and gain credibility in public opinion and, therefore, will have greater public endorsement of the policies they develop.

,,it is essent ial to creat e a cult ure in Europe of open dat a and t ransparency, in which t he windows of t he administ rat ion are ?opened?, and of reflect ion,,

For this reason, it is essent ial to create a culture in Europe of open data and transparency, in which the windows of the administration are ?opened?, and of reflection. This is critical for the administration in providing a public ser vice to its citizens.

All this must happen with due anonym isation of data in accordance with the strict European standard that guarantees digital rights and data protection. Thus, a governm ent cannot m ake use of trends in public data for spurious and partisan interests.

Governm ents that use technology to regularly consult with their citizens regarding the policies they promote are likely to have greater public support for these policies. This use of technology must take into account population charact erist ics, avoiding discrim ination and a digital divide between people who do and do not have digital knowledge and skills or access to technology. Technology enables the quick m easurem ent of public opinion and enables citizens to have an act ive role in public decision-m aking.

Is Europe prepared to face these digitisation processes? There has been great technological developm ent among EU com panies specialised in digitisation. However, it is also clear that the EU is dependent on other countries because it relies on large technology com panies whose know-how is essent ial.

Therefore, it is essent ial to work on the technological developm ent of Europe itself. If citizens use common tools such as social networks and general-purpose software, which citizens can use on a m assive scale and free of charge, and the data gained from these are used outside the euro area, an important weakness is revealed, because the power over these data is in the m anagem ent of the data.

The cit izen becom es the product, because the study of his or her habits allows the holder of the data to advertise products that result in com m ercial transactions. The cit izen becom es the object of the use of technology and the big data that are exploited.

,,if we export dat a, to a cert ain ext ent we also l ose sovereignt y over our virt ual t errit ory,,

Therefore, if we export data, to a certain extent we also lose sovereignty over our virtual territory. For this reason, it is essent ial to support technological developm ents that allow European states to satisfy the most basic ICT demands of European citizens.

Digitisation is an unstoppable process that connects all regions and citizens of the EU. Through the digital transition, greater equality of access to new jobs, information and business opportunities will be achieved. This is one of the great challenges that we face in Europe.

From the Alicante Provincial Council, in Spain, we have been investing in digital processes for years to achieve a more modern administration that is closer to citizens. Our activities and initiatives are aligned with those of the European Commission and with its community digitisation objective.

The EU has set us a challenge: digitisation. And in Alicante we are going to meet this objective.

This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL

Click here to view the article in the magazine.
To view other articles in this issue Click here.
If you would like to view other issues of TerritoriALL, you can see the full archive here.

This article appears in the EURegionsWeek 2021 Issue of TerritoriALL