Digital government: citizens and public authorities in a global data economy

Valerie Messini
Center Research Focus, Center Research Focus
2023S, Vorlesung und Übungen (VU), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04636


We are living in the digital age. The trend to digitalization  has become even more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With remote working, digital health monitoring, online education, and virtual social gatherings, the digitalization of our lives has accelerated, leading to significant changes in the way we interact with each other. Worldwide, governments in the past decades established digital services in a vast variety of forms, opening up both benefits and risks. 

In this course, we will explore the impact of digitalization on the public sector, aiming to understand how this phenomenon is affecting public services and institutions, as well as the potential benefits and challenges that arise.

We will shine a spotlight on the intersection between  surveillance capitalism, public administration and civil rights. We want to point out existing digital public services and reveal potentials and hazards in a global data economy defined by massive data harvesting. By analysing these issues, we aim to understand how the digitalization of our lives is transforming the way we govern and are governed, and how it is impacting our fundamental rights and freedoms. We hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities that the digital age presents for the public sector, and how we can best navigate this new landscape.

To explore the diverse aspects of the field, we will examine digital government from multiple perspectives. We will consider the impact of digitalization on individuals: What is their digital identity? How can they gain ownership and control over their data? How can a  self-sovereign identity be shaped? Additionally, we will explore how citizens can participate in public affairs, in a collective experience and how the public sector can support communities or empower minorities. Lastly, we will examine the design aspect of digital public services that are easy to use  and consider how touchpoints can be designed to provide citizen-centric solutions, enhance the democratisation of technology, promote inclusivity, and avoid ableism.

The course will be an engaging and collaborative learning experience, with expert presentations, interactive workshops, and independent workgroup sessions. Our goal is to explore how digitalization can increase citizen engagement in public affairs and find new approaches at the intersection of public administration and citizen engagement. Through open discussions and critical thinking, we hope to understand the challenges and opportunities that digitalization presents for the public sector and how we can use these technologies to promote social good while upholding civil rights. 

The course will conclude with a public presentation of work group results and open discussion during the Angewandte Festival, where you will have the opportunity to present your ideas and engage in debate with invited guests from academia, the public sector and members of the public audience.

Examination Modalities

There will be 

  • 2 blocked workshops with lectures, external input, conceptual development, group work, feedback and discussion rounds
  • 2 intermediate desk crits (1,5h)
  • 1 final public event

Each participant will be evaluated based on the following criteria:


  • Regular attendance and active participation in group discussions (20%)
  • Research on an individually chosen aspect and presentation (10 minutes) on the specific theoretical and/or technical background (20%)

In groups:

  • Development of concepts and strategies (20%)
  • Documentation and visual presentation of the developed ideas (20%)
  • Presentation and engagement in the final public event (20%)


This seminar especially (but not only) addresses students of Art and Science, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies, Media Theory, Digital Art, Transmedia Art and Experimental Game Cultures. The course is limited to 30 participants.



1) Digital Identity: 

Electronic Identity for citizens is today widely established in many European countries, creating numerous opportunities for data-driven and efficient interactions between public administrations and citizens. In this thematic focus, we aim to explore use cases relating to the digital identity of citizens like provision of official documents, health monitoring, and personal data management. While highlighting the opportunities we also aim to address concerns and potential solutions related to privacy, security, and digital sovereignty.

2) Digital Touchpoints: 

Citizen-friendly and efficient digital interfaces between governments and their populations are vital for modern public administration. Web-based government portals are long established and mobile apps and chatbots have emerged in the last few years. Our focus is on exploring novel approaches that leverage emerging technologies and human-centred design principles to create inclusive and accessible digital platforms that foster transparency, trust, and collaboration between citizens and public administrations.

3) Digital Participation: 

Citizen engagement is a key factor for a modern and citizen-oriented administration, as it helps improve political processes, public policies, and government institutions and infrastructure. In this context, our focus is on exploring digital means of citizen participation, collaboration, and community-building. Focus areas include digital (self) government to leverage emerging technologies and participatory design methods to empower citizens and enhance their role in shaping their communities and contributing to public good.


MIRO Group Links

-Group 1:

-Group 2:

-Group 3:

Key Words

digital goverment, global data economy, civil rights, surveillance capotalism, citizens and public authorities, digital identity, digital comunity, digital public spaces


26 April 2023, 09:00–12:00 Zentrum Fokus Forschung , "Introduction"
27 April 2023, 10:30–12:30 online , "Lecture + Group Building" (guest lecture)
16 May 2023, 10:00–17:00 Zentrum Fokus Forschung , "Workshop 1"
31 May 2023, 10:00–17:00 Seminar Room 34 , "Workshop 2"
13 June 2023, 10:00–11:30 Seminar Room 33 , "Desk Crits"
27 June 2023, 00:00–00:00 Zentrum Fokus Forschung , "Presentation Setup __ time & location tba."
28 June 2023, 00:00–00:00 Zentrum Fokus Forschung , "Final Event / Public Discussion __ time & location tba."

Course Enrolment

From 13 February 2023, 22:22 to 09 April 2023, 22:22
Via online registration

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas: Study Area 2: Science and Technology 569/020.02

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Science and Technology: Deepening / Application 700/002.20

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible