Digital Human Rights in Tirana: Raising awareness among public officials
#HumanRightsDay Blog Series nº 2
Tirana, the largest city and capital of Albania, was one of the four European cities selected in the open call to pilot the Digital Rights Governance Project coordinated along with UN Habitat, the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, Eurocities, and UCLG.
The City of Tirana has challenges related to the lack of awareness on digital rights among its staff, and the municipality also wanted to identify priorities and actions to make human digital rights a reality. As Ermir Puka, Director General for ICT, Development & GIS, Innovation and Data puts it, "Every citizen of Tirana is important to us. What is even more important to us is for them to live in a city with freedom of expression, information, communication and data privacy".
More specifically, the two main challenges Tirana is working on are:
- Training of civil servants: In order to raise the awareness and working capacities on human rights in the digital sphere.
- Drafting a digital rights agenda: As Tirana was designated the 2022 European Youth Capital, the municipality expressed the need to draft a Digital Rights Agenda for the city with a special focus on youth.
The workshops: scoping the challenge
After defining the challenge, two workshops were held over the 15th and 19th of September 2022, to establish priorities, identify key participants and set clear actions. The municipality established three main priorities:
- Assessing the current needs and capacities of public officials at the municipality of Tirana
- Developing a capacity-building program for these public officials
- Targeting the needs of different communities within the city.
“We need: assessment, skills and awareness.” said one of the participants at the design workshops. “We need to make people care about this.”
Assessing needs and developing a capacity building program for public officials
First, a survey was administered to 102 public officials to understand their knowledge on the topic of digital rights and the areas and methods they preferred for a future training program. Here we present some of the main results.
When they were asked to pick their top four answers, the survey showed that public officials are mainly concerned about the following areas, in order of votes:
- Cyber-attacks and cybercrime such as theft or abuse of personal data, ransomware (malicious software) or phishing (93 votes)
- The safety and well-being of children (76 votes)
- Use of personal data and information by companies or public administrations (67 votes)
- Lack of privacy due to increased surveillance efforts (56 votes)
- The difficulty some people have accessing the online world (e.g. persons with disabilities, elderly people, those living in areas with little or no internet access) (45 votes)
Participants were also asked to rate how necessary they thought it was to receive training in the following areas:
- Addressing the ethical issues of technology
- Encouraging the protection of human rights in technology
- Measures to address bias and discrimination against some groups in the use of technology
- Increasing digital inclusion and accessibility
- methods for ensuring that people have access and control of the data collected about them
- privacy, safety and security regarding data and technology use
- How to promote community participation and public engagement in technological decisions
- How to ensure transparency and accountability in government decisions regarding technology
- How to ensure that technology and data are publicly owned and open to easily access
The results showed that, on a 3-point scale (from ‘not necessary’ to ‘very necessary’) more than half of participants selected the top score, ‘very necessary’, for all nine areas. However three areas proved to be particularly demanded by participants. The most highly voted area was ‘privacy, safety and security’ which was voted as ‘very necessary’ by 82% of participants, followed by “methods for ensuring that people have access and control of the data collected about them”, which was voted as very necessary by 76.5%; and “How to ensure transparency and accountability in government decisions regarding technology”, marked as very necessary by 70.6%. This information will be used to guide the priorities for the upcoming training workshops
The survey was complemented with various interviews conducted with directors of different departments in the municipality. All of them agreed that there was a need to increase awareness of digital rights among the general public as well as public officials. The interviews highlighted the need to adapt the training to the necessities of each department, which shaped the format of the workshops. It was established that it would be most efficient to first conduct a training module for some key representatives from each department who would later be responsible for transferring these learnings to the specifics of their teams.
Addressing the needs of different communities within the city
This workstream is dedicated to addressing communities’ needs, with a specific focus on youth groups. In the year 2022 Tirana was designated Youth European Capital, and a series of activities to promote the active participation of young people have been undertaken. Within the Digital Rights Governance Project the city aims to complement these actions by defining an engagement strategy to increase awareness in digital rights among Tirana’s youth.
Read the full overview of the digital rights governance project here.
Read the article on Sofia's pilot
Read the article on Brussels' pilot
Read the article on Dublin's pilot