Policy Brief: Resilience in turbulent times

This is the second policy brief recently published for the Global Happiness Council co-authored by Keegan McBride. 

Centre for Digital Governance Postdoctoral Researcher Keegan McBride, together with Luca de Biase, Gianluca Misuraca, and Stefano Quintarelli recently published their second policy brief for the Global Happiness Council titled “Resilience in Turbulent Times”. This is the second policy brief in a three part series (the first can be read here). A third and final policy brief will soon follow and will be published as a chapter within the “Global Happiness and Well-Being Policy Report”.

This second policy brief focuses on how digital systems can be built for today’s network society in a more resilient way while also taking stock of the potential risks and opportunities of digital technologies for happiness and wellbeing.

The policy brief highlights four necessary aspects for future wellbeing oriented and resilient digital systems: data and digital archives, digital identity, interoperability, and flexibility.

Though there are a number of advantages that accompany the development and increased availability of digitally resilient systems, caution is also warranted. When building new digital systems it is important to pay attention to, such as: data privacy, state and employer surveillance, an over reliance on technology, and a potentially increasing digital divide.

The brief concludes by offering six core recommendations:

  • Digital technologies cannot and will not stop crises, we will continue to experience shocks and turbulence. An over reliance on technology, and an under reliance on structure, regulation, and human networks will reduce resilience. Thus, for resilience, it is important to take a holistic approach to technological developments.
  • It is not possible to look at the digital dimension and society separately, they are connected, socially constructed, and directly intertwined. Digital technologies may provide new tools to fight back against shocks, crises, and turbulence, but only as part of a broader and systemic response.
  • Due to the potential for privacy violations, surveillance, and abuse any new digital transformation initiative must pay attention to the potential ethical, well-being, morale, and other negative effects.
  • There is a need for increased interoperability rules, standardisation, and data governance. By adopting user-centric technological solutions such as Self Sovereign Identity frameworks and by increasing the uptake of data vocabularies and standards, it is possible to rapidly scale interoperable systems and support the cross-border exchange of data at the global level, while protecting user privacy.
  • Backups and maintenance are important, for new digital developments ensure sufficient funding is providing for future maintenance and support. The absence of such funding can rapidly reduce the resilience and robustness of technological systems.
  • Put interoperability and flexibility at the core of new technological developments to improve resilience. Focusing on these characteristics first, rather than on efficiency or cost, will likely lead to stronger systems that are more resilient, anti-fragile, and, in the long run, provide a greater benefit.

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