Lab: Technology and Media Policy for Innovation

Academic Program: 
Master of Public Administration (2 years)
Gina Neff
Credits: 2.0

Europe faces a digital policy challenge. On the one hand, distinctly European values around privacy and security suggest that an alternative technology ecology can emerge to support European growth and development and European data values. On the other, decisions and values about consumer-grade, widely available technologies made in the United States and elsewhere are influencing the kinds of data that governments and companies have about Europeans’ health, location, and movements throughout cities. The goal of this policy lab is map how municipal and regional governments in Europe are designing policy for the increasing number of social technologies, devices and services that rely on a wide range personal data. Enormous amounts of personal data are being produced, analysed, monetized and cross-referenced with other data streams in ways that hold both significant potential and challenges for policy makers. Some of these initiatives hold promise for solving vexing policy challenges -- “smart cities” movement encourages the use of data from sensors and mobile telephones to make better resource choices in energy and water consumption, and new commercial and municipal traffic and transit data services can help solve global ecological problems at the local level. The problem now is to ensure that policy makers on the local level are designing tools that protect citizens’ privacy and prioritize collective public power over private commercial interest.

Students will be involved in original research through a group project—publication of original research about the best practices of how cities across Europe are responding to these new data challenges. This class is all about researching and writing in teams. We will be doing real-time policy research, which means that the management and flow of tasks, group discussion of priorities and findings, and a shared understanding of how to advance policy discourse in Europe, is paramount.