Inter City Digital Pop Up

Since 2021, the Edgelands Institute has set up temporary residencies or "pop-ups" in four cities: Medellín, Cúcuta, Geneva and Nairobi. In each of these locations, we have worked alongside the residents of these cities to explore and understand how they are renegotiating their urban social contract as the state, private entities and individuals increasingly rely on digital technologies to provide security and foster a sense of safety. Our interactions with various stakeholders in each of the cities we have popped up over the past two years have deepened our understanding of the urban social contract.

We believe that creating spaces where people can share different perspectives and experiences is key to fostering an inclusive dialogue about the agreements and trade-offs we need to make to live together in the digital age. That is why we are bringing the Edgelands network together for an intercity dialogue in 2024. This dialogue will be an opportunity to exchange experiences, observations and solutions from each city, as well as from the perspectives of different stakeholders within these cities.

To guide these conversations, we will take inspiration from the introduction of a right to digital integrity in Geneva. In June 2023, the citizens of Geneva voted to amend their constitution to include a right to digital integrity, which will govern the relationship between the Geneva government and its citizens. This is a good example of the renegotiation of the urban social contract in the digital age.

From this perspective, the concern raised by digital technologies is not that our online identity (or a digital avatar) is threatened, but that the activities we perform and that take place in a digital environment could threaten our physical and mental well-being.

In the text adopted in Geneva, digital integrity includes the right to be protected from the misuse of data relating to one's digital life, the right to security in digital space, the right to an offline life, and the right to be forgotten. It also includes an active responsibility of the state to promote digital inclusion, raise awareness of digital issues, commit to the development of digital sovereignty in Switzerland and cooperate in its implementation.

Building on this idea, these conversations will provide a platform to further define some aspects of this right, explore its implications in other Edgelands cities, and, more broadly, deepen our reflections on the digitalization of security and our collective ability to live together in cities.

Within this framework of digital integrity, we can think of the interaction of security and digital technologies along three dimensions:

1. Security in Cities and Digital Technologies as tools for Policing and Enforcement

This includes using digital technologies by police and law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety in cities. This includes surveillance systems, facial recognition technology and other tools used to prevent and investigate criminal activity. Applying the lens of digital integrity to this dimension means examining the potential threats these technologies pose to the mental and physical well-being of individuals.

2. Security in the Digital Space

This includes protection from various harms facilitated by digital technologies, such as cyberbullying, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and cyberstalking. It also includes protection from targeting and surveillance practices that may violate fundamental rights.

3. Security of Digital Infrastructure and Data

Here, digital integrity addresses the critical issue of ensuring the security of the digital infrastructure that individuals rely on for their daily activities. This includes protecting networks, systems and databases that store personal information from unauthorised access, data breaches and cyber threats.

Through these conversations, we aim to explore how these dimensions manifest themselves in each of the Edgelands cities, and to learn from each other's experiences. By fostering dialogue and exchange, we hope to build a collective understanding of this crucial issue. We aim to bring together the diverse perspectives and experiences of different stakeholders in the Edgelands cities to build a collective understanding of this crucial issue.

Throughout 2024, we will curate a series of six virtual conversation spaces, each held bi-monthly, bringing together stakeholders from across the Edgelands Cities. Using the Edgelands pop-up methodology, each conversation will serve as a building block, enriching the discourse with insights from previous discussions.

Our discussions will adhere to The Chatham House Rule, ensuring an atmosphere of openness and candor. Virtual meetings will take place via Zoom, with no recordings allowed to encourage participants to freely express their views.

The format of each discussion may vary, tailored to the stakeholders involved and the topics under consideration. Some sessions may be intimate gatherings, while others may be open to a broader audience. Expect a mix of expert-led discussions and citizen panels, providing diverse perspectives. The curator of each Edgelands city will participate in all conversations. Additionally, we aim to invite the individuals responsible for digital policy in each city, enriching our dialogues with their insights. All discussions will be conducted in English, with interpreters available on request.

The culmination of our six conversations will be a final document, possibly accompanied by a concluding event in Geneva. This synthesis will encapsulate the collective insights and recommendations generated by the Edgelands network.

final Report


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