E-Government-Themen im BFH-Zentrum Digital Society
The BFH Centre Digital Society is concerned with the question of how to create the greatest possible value through digitalisation. This is a broad field. It includes very practical topics such as the intelligent, clean and secure implementation of IT solutions. It includes conceptually concrete topics such as a good design of IT solutions for a given application context and conceptually abstract topics such as the architecture management of large IT systems. It further includes fundamental topics of legal informatics, including the protection of privacy, and even more fundamental questions of legal policy, including how to ensure a fair use of information in our society. And last but not least, it includes philosophical reflection on the interaction of the economy, the state, civil society and the individual. All these perspectives, which are located at different levels of abstraction, should be networked if one wants to create sustainable value through digitalisation. The multi-optional e-government cosmos For us, the e-government question of what the “ideal” state of the future looks like and how we can realise it in practice will remain central in the future. This inherently transdisciplinary question must be examined in multidisciplinary cooperation. Because digitisation is changing both the tasks of administration and the ways in which administration can be organised efficiently and effectively – and in such a dramatic way that delimited monodisciplinary solutions will not get you very far. Because often enough the practice of using technology overturns the legal-theoretical order of things, the disciplines work best at eye level, which is hard enough. Even then, the medium- to long-term future prospects will remain multi-optional unclear because there are extremely opposing trends. For example, the privatisation of currencies, including through Bitcoin, is contrasted with the expansion of state financial control, including through the automatic exchange of information. And in politics, the personalisation of election campaigns with Big Data (already in the USA, among other places) contrasts with the anonymisation of the exercise of power through shitstorms on the internet (in the ACTA case, among others). Applied researchers can only face this situation by gliding back and forth between the communities, i.e. by floating in the multidisciplinary scientific cosmos. New challenges for digital government In the context of digitalisation, two new challenges for the state are of particular interest. One concerns the creation of a public infrastructure for the digital economy. Only if companies have access to information and digital trust and computing services at reasonable prices will the market work. What is decisive is the quality, prices and conditions under which the resources are made available. In the future, it will become one of the main tasks of economic policy to guarantee the availability and customer self-determination (without lock-ins, among other things) of this digital infrastructure. The other challenge comes from the field of geopolitics. The failure of European administrations to anticipate the refugee flows is reminiscent of the failure of the intelligence services to anticipate 9/11. The data were there, their interpretation was not compelling but obvious, but no one used them. As a result, political decision-makers acted without knowledge of the facts – and in Germany and Austria, the administration had to take on tasks within a very short time that had not existed in this dimension before. This is an example of how digital geopolitics is becoming a key task of the state in the ever-shrinking world. General topic: state data strategy Closely related to both challenges is sovereign data management. The boundaries between administration and economy are partially dissolving, which raises the question of data sharing. Sovereign options for action are giving way to constraints, behind which there are often information deficits on the part of the state, which also make meaningful strategic planning for the future impossible. At the same time, the state is forcing more and more data collection on companies in order to be able to control them better. And quite incidentally, the relationship between the administration, parliaments and the sovereign is characterised by a mostly disproportionate transparency. These distortions manifest themselves exemplarily in the non-existence of state data strategies, in the shadow of which even the transfer of quasi-sovereign tasks to private data platforms takes place (as with the deletion order to Google). But a democracy without a data strategy is like a fiction with an expiry date. Therefore, a sensible design of sovereign data management will become a general topic of e-government.