Research event

Infrastructural state capacity in the digital age: Lessons from the performance of COVID-19 contact tracing apps

A presentation by Luciana Cingolani (Centre for Digital Governance). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance

Abstract: In a context where states increasingly complement their physical presence with digital means, the classic idea of infrastructural state power needs reconsideration. The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unparalleled opportunity to that end, given the uniformity of one digital infrastructural intervention - the offer of contact tracing apps- and its highly varying performance across geographies. Against this backdrop, the presentation expands on traditional discussions on state infrastructural power by testing a series of theoretically-informed determinants of tracing apps’ adoption rates in a pool of 160 countries. The findings point at a clear primacy of governmental trust over financial, institutional and technological factors - including privacy standards -, suggesting that the relational aspect of infrastructural power acquires a proportionally greater weight in the digital era.

Luciana Cingolani is Assistant Professor of Public Administration at the Hertie School. Her research interests lie at the intersection of public management, institutions and innovation, administrative capacity building and inclusiveness in public services. Her work has been published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Governance, Government Information Quarterly and World Development. She holds a PhD from Maastricht University and UNU-MERIT, and a Master of Public Policy at San Andrés University in Argentina. She has advised and implemented several projects on institutional development for the French Development Agency, the European Commission and the OECD. She has previously worked in the area of Participatory Strategic Planning for the Buenos Aires City government. She is an affiliate of the Centre for Digital Governance at Hertie.