SocioDigital Lab debated the digital transformation in times of crisis

“The crisis triggered by the pandemic in 2020, (…) has demonstrated in the case of Portugal (…), how technology can be the key to our progress as a society,” stated Mário Campolargo, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Administrative Modernization, at the 1st Conference of the SocioDigital Lab for Public Policy on “Digital Transformation in Times of Crisis”, which took place at Iscte on November 28 and 29, 2022.

During his speech, Mário Campolargo also mentioned the Portuguese RRF’s plans to accelerate the digital transition, especially of schools and businesses, and discussed its vision of bringing citizens closer to Public Administration services through policies such as the new generation of Simplex, assisted digital channels in citizen stores, widespread digital literacy and training, strategies for equality and non-discrimination, among others.

Ricardo Paes Mamede, Director of Iscte-Sintra, discussed the growth of Big Data technologies, Artificial Intelligence and the widespread adoption of social networks, with the end of the mediated information and the significant emergence of power concentration by large global corporations that own the most popular digital platforms. He also argued that the future of society’s digital transformation will require regulatory and technological advances for the protection of citizens’ privacy, often exploited by large platforms.

Michael Tjalve, Director of Innovation in the Tech for Social Impact group at Microsoft Philanthropies, gave a talk entitled “Digital Transformation in the Humanitarian Sector”, where he addressed the challenges of digital transformation in the context of humanitarian non-governmental organizations. Tjalve also presented several strategies that have been adopted in his work experience, namely in the provision of tools and services in different humanitarian crisis scenarios, such as natural disasters or refugee crises, for example. These tools and services include ways to facilitate contact to respond to urgent needs (such as water or food), but also to assess the real impact of the damage caused by an earthquake, for example, using Artificial Intelligence applied to satellite images, or even chatbots that provide confidential and interactive support to women in situations of domestic violence, in their own language.

Miguel Sales Dias, Professor and researcher at Iscte, member of the Conference’s organization and one of the coordinators of the SocioDigital Lab’s “Digital Transformation” thematic line, makes “a very positive balance” of the event, stressing that the discussions “may serve as a foundation for the future of digital transformation and may even advise public policies”, especially considering the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to respond to the various needs raised throughout the debates.

For two days, on November 28-29, digital transformation in times of crisis was broadly discussed in several roundtables, with the contribution of national and international experts through an interdisciplinary approach. The conclusions of each roundtable will be compiled into policy briefs with recommendations to inform public policy-making and decision-making .

Photographs by Hugo Cruz

Text by Com’Investigar

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