The National Digital Policy Playbook: New Approaches for Collaboration and Impact

21 December 2017 - A Workshop on Other in Geneva, Switzerland

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Full Session Transcript

(Off microphone)



>> MODERATOR: It is a small group.  We can autograph the copies, too, if you want.  (Laughter)



>> THOMAS SCHNIEDER: All right.  Good morning, everybody.  My name is Thomas Schnieder, I'm with the Swiss government, representing our president because my president is one of the stewards on the ‑‑ and we work in a number of areas in these fields.  Unfortunately, professor (?) had fallen, or otherwise he would be here as well.  And we have been in particularly participating with a lot of interest and commitment in this part of the national digital strategies or protocols, whatever you call it.  Because we have ‑‑ it is very important to have a strategy ‑‑ digital strategy to know what your needs are, your businesses, citizens' needs are, special circumstances.



We have had in Switzerland the strategy, as it was called the information society it was called at that time, since 1998.  Of the federal government.  We have updated it several times.  You probably have heard it 10 times this week.  The latest strategies from last year.  It is called digital Switzerland.  We had a number of let's say consultations with a number of stakeholders, it is an inclusive process that we had.  And it accumulated with the Swiss IGF and accumulating in the big conference we called national digital dialogue in November. 



The feedback of all of this will be used as the starting point of the next version of the strategy coming next year.  It is a two‑year cycle.  The cycles are shorter and shorter in particular with the measures or action points that we attach to a strategy.  This is ‑‑ we have realized this is a useful thing.  It is very appreciated also by the stakeholders.  Of course they criticize us for everything that is not in there.  But that is normal.  And aggregate.  The president act as co‑steward in this particular network because we think the outcome, which is the playbook that you have also online is a good collection of a number of examples or good practices of how, in some countries, the strategies are developed, what the processes are, what the outcomes look like, how priorities are set.  There is a good sample of a variety of countries from different regions in the world.  One of the contributions is from our side.  And we think that this really helps as to, first of all, better understand the issues, the challenges, also the opportunities that these digital transformation brings, and also to give a pragmatic tool where other interested governments or stakeholders can pick and choose what they think is fit or useful for them in the national situation to be inspired, to copy or to use as an inspiration, as I said, to further develop their own strategies.  So we would like to thank the departments for producing this pause they think it is a really useful tool.  Thank you. 



>> MODERATOR: So go to the next, thank you.  So a bit of background, what the forum is trying to do.  The left‑hand side of the page indicates how the world traditionally has worked.  Vertical, siloed.  Some cross networking.  But a fairly vertical world.  Of course, what we are seeing as we enter the speed of all the changes happening with all of technology is we're moving to a world that is all horizontally connected.  So at the forum,you know, we have the ability to bring together many of the different multi stakeholder approach.  For many of you at IGF, this is not new.  This is how the Internet has developed.  On the physical and logical level, it is an approach of norms that led to the creation of the Internet. 



The belief is as the Internet moves to the fourth Industrial Revolution, you see the multi‑stakeholder networks come up with like how do we deal with privacy issues with AI or safety issues related to IOT.  On and on and on. 



Conceptually, we wanted to look at how to apply the model to the protocols or solutions for national digital policy.  That is different.  You can't come up with a set of menus for a government to implement and now they have their national digital policy.  However ‑‑ we formed a group of experts around this ‑‑ could we put together a group of experts, it was chaired by president Lloyd and other members of groups that are here.  Could they put together case studies for the national digital policy.  This is the digital protocol network on national digital policy, groups of experts that came together. 



In this case, they came up with the playbook, we call it, that frames solutions for governments that are facing in creating policy.  I will hand it over to an expert that will present highlights.



>> PRESENTER: When the network group first got together, the questions we were asking ourselves is what could we produce to be useful to policymakers as they face the challenges of creating or updating their own national digital policy approaches to different aspects of digital governance.  As Alex said, this cannot be done with just an off the shelf approach.  We started looking at the challenges that the policymakers are facing.  In terms of digital policy.



What became apparent early on, I suppose, two factors.  Firstly, the issues you are facing from a digital policymaking view evolve over time as your nation's adaption of the Internet changes.  Sort of the foundation you have, the question about how you provide the right levels of infrastructure to the Internet.  Then how do you governor and harness technical innovations.  Then as your use of the Internet matures, you can get into the questions of strategy and policy of the governance and so on.  This slide probably doesn't do justice to the complexity of the set of challenges because these are not linear.  The totality of the Internet governance builds and gets more complicated.  We can see this week, for example, in the U.K., which is relatively well developed digital economy, the launch of the service allocation to the Internet provider to 10 megabit per second as a national goal.  At the same time in the European court at the right‑hand end of the chart, there is the European court determine that Uber is a taxi company and not an intermediary.  And governed in that way.  The set of challenges are ever more complicated in this space.  They don't go away. 



Next slide.  So having discussed this, the network decided we wanted to do something that really focused on the four key pillars of the economic and societal layers described in the ICANN models, around access, commerce, security, trust and content.  That translated into the work we did as a network, manifested themselves in the way that the playbook is constructed by the chapters we have chosen.  If we could flip through the next four builds.



We have chapters in the playbook on innovation, Internet governance, growing the economy, protecting digital infrastructure and rights, the security and trust.  And developing a smart society, which is really focused around the e‑Government aspects of content. 



Next slide.  The first two deliverables from the network, both of which are encompassed in the playbook that is the playbook itself.  And we call it a digital model canvas.  I will explain the rationale behind both of those.  The playbook ‑‑ and we chose the term "playbook" recognizing the link back to American football.  I'm not an expert in that particular sporting discipline.  My understanding is the way the game works is teams have a set of defined plays they will execute in response to a particular set of circumstances.  And as the game progresses, the play maker, somebody in charge of the team, the captain, I guess, will call a particular play out to respond to what is going on, on the pitch at that particular time.  We felt that was probably a better way of structuring our response than the kind of the menu system which Alex has discounted as not appropriate. 



We want to say there were different challenges facing governments as they create policy.  What we can do is call a play as it relates to a set of circumstances that was right for their nation.  Of course, not all plays are right for every nation and every circumstance but we tried to set out in the playbook, the circumstances that led to that play being appropriate in a given nation. 



The second part is the policy canvas.  Anyone who has done an MBA or business strategy will be familiar with this kind of technique.  It is a simple tool, a single side of paper which has a series of prompts on it for the features you need to have included in a digital policy of any particular sort.  It is really intended to be used to structure and to challenge policymakers as they're going through the process of designing a policy, by getting them to focus on the goals they're aiming, trying to tackle.  The stakeholders they're involved with, whether the beneficiaries, the risks tackled, so on.  We'll come to that in detail.  We have two deliverables in the playbook and far more copies than we need for you to take away.



I will talk in detail about what's in the playbook.  We have 17 different countries represented from every different part of the world.  I was aware when I said that, what looks to be a big gaping hole in North America, technically, I think Costa Rica is in North America, we can claim it is all parts of the world.  17 countries, each covering one of the four aspects of the digital policy challenge and tackling a very different aspect of digital policymaking.  I will talk about the chapters and the way that the plays have panned out.



If we could get to the first page.  The first chapter is around digital governance and access.  This chapter has five cases in from Brazil, Switzerland ‑‑ and Thomas described the situation in Switzerland.  In each chapter, there is a play executed by the government or combination of civil society organizations working together.  We try and extract from that the kind of key lesson that can be ‑‑ that can be learned.  So Brazil, for example, the Brazilian government, very explicitly set out to create a multi‑stakeholder approach when it created the CGI, the central committee for Internet governance.  In Columbia, the government executed a plan called via digital, which is how it would raise Internet access and encourage people to make more use of ICT.  Leading to the fact that Colombia has some of the leading connectivity speeds in Latin America.  Rwanda is a fascinating example.  These are situations where governments or civil society organizations have had to take steps to use technology to rebuild a nation after many years of conflict.  Having grown‑up in a country where we take this for granted to look at the activities of both governments.



Next slide.  Chapter 2, developing smart society and public services.  This is focused around digital government initiatives.  We have some of the kind of poster children, if you like, for these kind of initiatives around the world.  Particularly Singapore, Estonia, at the top of any list you see when we talk about success in the policy areas.  India, which has done an amazing job of creating a national digital identity platform to make it easy to access e‑Government platform.



The united Arab Emirates is a more top‑down approach, but nevertheless, one that is successful at delivering the digital dividend.  One of the key insights we learned from this is there is no one fixed solution that governance particularly has to reflect the size and nature of the state that you're implementing e‑Government services in.  As I said, you know, the difference between UAE model and the Estonia model being the most stark.



Chapter 3, growing the digital economy.  Again very diverse examples here of countries that have made a success of stimulating growth both in their native high‑tech companies and encouraging investment from other technology companies from other nations.  Also in digitizing traditional industries.



This is the chapter which I was most involved in, it is the one I'm most familiar with.  But if we look at the kind of interventions that have been adopted here, they range in Sweden, for example, where the government made available about 15 or 20 years ago, subsidized access to PCs which basically led to pretty much every household in Sweden getting access to every computer through this route.  As a result of that, deregulation in the telecom sector and having a benign environment from an entrepreneurial point of view, I mean, they have nothing in the way of fees for university access.  The welfare system is strong.  Being an entrepreneur is quite a risk‑free step to take in Sweden.  As a result, despite the population of only 4.5 million.  They have some of the world’s leading and Internet companies.  Skype was born in Sweden.  King and moan are valuable countries that have been out of the Swedish economy.



Costa Rica, similar size to Sweden, the approach is to recognize they don't have very much to offer in terms of market size to companies who want to invest in Costa Rica, but they have used tax incentives and a commitment to free trade to drive investment from other technology companies.  So they have a very vibrant economy based on multinational technologies based in Costa Rica.  The free trade zone that allows companies operating there to avoid corporation taxes or taxes on capital investment.  Although they have seen some fluctuation in the kind of investments of individual companies over the years, people have come and built large investments which were reduced or gone away.  Overall, the economy is vibrant.  That is starting to trigger investment in a native digital sector that probably wouldn't have been seen, were it not for that initial set of investments from outside.



Kenya, again ‑‑ sorry, I will finish on that one.  Kenya was a very interesting example.  Probably the pivotal moment is when they put the teams cable, the East Africa marine cable which connected Kenya to the Internet access via the Middle East for the first time.  Kenya has become a connection point for other countries into the Internet and has been a stimulation of both native and foreign investment in digital companies as a result of the better access they have got.  It is interesting how a single act on behalf of government can be pivotal in driving economic growth.



The last chapter really related to cybersecurity, from case studies from Australia, Japan, Germany.  Probably the least different in terms of what is being done.  This is about the creation of national cybersecurity policies linked to an attempt to support economic growth.  The rationale in each case is different.  Australia, I think, very much felt it was behind the curve, compared to peer countries, both economically and under the five I cyber community it is with.  It put effort to leap frog its position.  Japan, again, national cybersecurity policy, but prompted very much by its hosting of the Olympic games.  And Germany where they have amongst Europe, some of the most interested and activist sort of organizations in terms of digital rights and access to data.  Germany's policy has been very much around using cybersecurity policy to establish trust in organizations that hold personal data and making them demonstrate they're doing that in a way which is trustworthy. 



We have the four chapters from the playbook, 17 case studies.  We hope the people will go away, read those, find something in them to apply to their own digital policies.



Go to the last couple of slides here.  This relates to the canvas.  And the canvas, as I said is based on something that will be very familiar to people that do work on business strategy modeling, the sort of thing you might learn through an MBA, that kind of program.  This was put together through the network by Stephan levels at the gov lab at NYU.  Stephan has written interesting stuff on how to apply the canvas.  We put a link at the end of the presentation to the material Stephan has written.



As I said, basically intended to be a tool to help people as they construct their own policies.  It is a series of prompts, if you like, to remind you what you need to be asking about.  We clearly don't have, you know, the view that digital policy must be able to be written on a single side of a piece of paper, but if can you summarize it down to that level, that is quite a good discipline.  But the headings are intended to be prompts that will give you pause for thought and make you think about, have I tackled this aspect in sufficient detail?  Have I gotten the metrics and the data I need to support this set of decisions and outcomes we're proposing.  What we will find in the playbook is a work example where we effectively reverse engineered the Rwanda policy into the canvas here.



I won't get into the details.  You probably can't read that on the slide anyway, the writing is small. 



We took the 20, 20, 50 plan Rwanda put together in the technologies to work in the conflict and compose it into the canvas here. 



>> (Off microphone)






>> PRESENTER: One thing to note quickly, it revealed this was highlighted as a gap in the thinking.  If we can get to the next slide.  I won't go through the details, I talked about the lessons learned as we went through the deck.  I would like to finish with the next slide, if we can, which has got a couple of fronts on it.  Canvas launched in September.  The feedback is good.  We would like others to look at it.  Either the paper copy or download it.  We would like to get thoughts on whether you think it is useful to policymakers and whether there are other things the network can do to build mechanisms and share best practices and in the global community.  I will leave it at that.



>> MODERATOR: I think we are technically done with the session, but if there are only questions ‑‑ there was only a handful of you in the room.  Come talk to us.  Bill was the project manager at the forum that did this.  If there is any questions, please take the chance right now.  Okay.  Well, otherwise, thank you for your joining the session.  Please take a copy of the playbook if you haven't had one.  But better yet, go online and pull it down and we also have a space to get comments.



I should end by saying, this is not the be all, end all, it is the baseline of a living document.  I think we have created space where people can submit additional ideas and case studies.  Whether the forum can support this beyond the next couple months, we're not sure.  We will see how many people are keeping this up‑to‑date.  As a stand‑alone piece that is our contribution to this issue.  Thanks very much. 



(Session concluded 10:13 a.m. CET)