Attended by municipal authorities and communities from around the globe interested in learning more about the privacy challenges related to the digitalization of cities, the debate – moderated by Dr Jonathan Andrew, former Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy – brought together a diverse panel with in-depth experience in smart cities projects from North and South America and Europe.
Panelists shared insights from their collaboration with government, citizens, municipal authorities, and businesses to deliver public infrastructure and services leveraging digital innovations that improve the quality of life for populations in urban areas.
Reviewing the impact of projects in several US cities – including Boston, Seattle and Chicago – Ben Green from the University of Michigan highlighted the need to engage citizens from the beginning, before defining the mandate and scope of the projects. Such consultations are key to get citizens’ views about the necessity of developing new technologies and their relevance to addressing the underlying social welfare problems they are supposed to tackle.
Lorena Santana Reuss, representing Do! Smart Cities from Santiago, Chile, also underscored the importance of engagement with communities, particularly in relation to those groups that may be marginalized or excluded from debates. Their participation is key to ensure that their concerns – notably in relation to privacy and data protection – are taken into account.
Katharina Candel-Haug, Strategy Manager at Stadtwerke München, also noted how the new data protection regulatory framework in Europe (mainly the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) has a major impact on the planning and delivery of projects by municipalities, citing her experience in developing mobility solutions for the city districts in Munich.
The audience had the opportunity to put forward their questions to the panel and ask for their insights and predictions regarding the evolution of smart cities. Ben Green, drawing on his work with American cities and the implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives highlighted his concerns that ‘tech solutionism’ could give rise to ill-considered projects that missed the opportunities to deliver meaningful improvements in public services while protecting the fundamental rights of those they intend to benefit. Responding to a question by the audience on the viability of universal international guidelines, Katharina Candel-Haug underscored how in Germany a collection of national, regional and local standards provided a key framework for safeguarding citizens’ human rights and ensuring projects met the necessary specification for compliance.
‘This panel succeeded in kickstarting the debate and generating further interest in how smart cities projects should integrate a human rights-based approach to their development and implementation’ says Kamelia Kemileva, Executive Manager of the Geneva Cities Hub.
‘We hope that this panel is the first step in cities’ engagement on this issue and that this initiative will foster stronger links between municipalities that can facilitate the emergence of a broad network of cities to share their knowledge and best practices’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of Geneva Human Rights Platform.
The Geneva Academy team at the 2022 Mandea Moot Court – Helmer Jonelid and Edward Millett – qualified for the final rounds of the competition that will take place in Geneva from 18 to 21 July 2022.
From 23 to 24 March 2022, the Geneva Human Rights Platform conducted in Grenada, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, its second pilot of a UN treaty bodies (TBs) focused review – designed to discuss how countries implement specific recommendations issued by UN TBs between sessions.
IsaaK Alexandre KaRslian, Unsplash
This event aims at raising international awareness on the human rights situation of women and girls in Afghanistan and propose recommendations for effective action by the international community.
This event marks the official launch of the updated Istanbul Protocol, with Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, together with representatives of the core UN anti-torture mechanisms and other international human rights bodies.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will provide participants with an introduction to substantive human rights law. It will start with an introduction to the nature and sources of international human rights law and its place in the international legal system. The course will then provide a presentation of the main principles applicable to substantive rights (jurisdiction, obligation and limitations).
Francisco Proner / Farpa/ CIDH
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, aims at presenting the institutions and procedures in charge of the implementation of international human rights law.
This research project, aimed via the drafting of a practitioners’ guide on human rights and countering corruption, to clarify the conceptual relationship between human rights, good governance and anticorruption, demonstrate the negative impact of corruption on human rights and provide guidance and make practical recommendations for effectively using the UN human rights system in anti-corruption efforts.
Cámara de Diputadas y Diputados de Chile
This project analysed the role of national human rights systems (NHRSs) in implementing international human rights standards and recommendations.