What are the implications of safe city projects? What are some concerning issues?
Many implications of safe city projects exist. Safe cities projects are initiatives focused on security and creating an ecosystem where people feel safe and connected. However, there are several concerning issues surrounding these projects. One example is the case of the Mauritius Safe City Project, where the project was announced without public debate and implemented through an unsolicited bid from Huawei. The project cost a significant amount of money and raised questions about data ownership, contract transparency, and potential corruption. The emphasis on surveillance rather than just safety and security also raised concerns about the potential for oppression and silencing dissent.
How do information and communication technologies contribute to democratic culture?
Information and communication technologies (ICT) can contribute to democratic culture by empowering people and enhancing participation. Ensuring that individuals have the necessary digital skills and knowledge to use technology effectively is crucial. ICT can enable citizens to have a voice, participate in deliberative processes, and raise awareness about issues. Examples from sub-Saharan Africa demonstrate the value of technology in creating participatory democracies. However, it is important to be cautious about the line between liberating and oppressive technology. Authoritarian leaders have been using technology to consolidate their power, highlighting the need for citizens to be aware, aggregate data, and learn from best practices. Additionally, efforts should be made to minimize the digital divide, ensuring access to technology for rural populations and promoting low-cost solutions.
Roukaya Kasenally is a democracy scholar and associate professor at the University of Mauritius. Kasenally serves as the chair of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA). She also serves as a board member of the West African Democracy Radio (WADR) and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP). She edits the series ‘Small State Studies’ (Routledge). Kasenally has researched and published in the area of democratic and media governance and intrusive technology. She was a Reagan – Fascell Democracy Fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 2011, and a Draper Hills Fellow, Centre on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, Stanford University (2015).
The Center recorded this video during the dialogue program Technology & Democracy. The dialogue took place in Washington, D.C. in May 2023.