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Andrew Dawson: “Smart cities are more a political challenge than a technological one”

CAHAI 7 July 2020
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Andrew Dawson: “Smart cities are more a political challenge than a technological one”

"Local and regional authorities are making increasing use of artificial intelligence in the delivery of services to citizens," underlined Andrew Dawson (RCE, United Kingdom), vice-chair of the Congress Governance Committee and Councilor for West Cheshire and Chester, at the ad hoc meeting on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) on 7 July 2020. "In recent years, Congress has placed great emphasis on issues related to information and the use of new technologies," he added.

In particular, the Governance Committee has prepared a report on "Open data for better public services”. In this report, adopted in 2017, the Congress encourages local and regional authorities to make datasets open to the entire population while ensuring data protection. The Congress also called on member states to recognise the importance of open data for strengthening local democracy and to provide guidelines in this field.

The Congress Committee on Governance is currently working on a report on "Smart Cities: opportunities and challenges for democracy" which will be presented for adoption at the Committee meeting on 15 September 2020. The aim is to examine how European cities can harness artificial intelligence technologies to improve the lives of their citizens. The report also aims to understand the risks associated with these technologies and to ensure that smart cities remain focused on democratic values.

Mr Dawson suggested that an additional protocol should be added to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) dealing specifically with artificial intelligence. “Artificial intelligence can offer many opportunities but also pose challenges to governance. We need to reflect on how artificial intelligence can affect democracy and human rights. In this sense, the intelligent city is more a political challenge than a technological one,” concluded Andrew Dawson.