Research school aims to decrease inequality in the digital welfare
1,7 million Swedes live with the risk of digital vulnerability. That causes an inequality in the digital welfare, claims Johan Magnusson. He is Professor in Informatics at the Department of Applied IT, University of Gothenburg and originator of the recently funded research school Digital förvaltning (Digital governance).
The research school Digital förvaltning contributes to a new way of creating knowledge and fills thereby a void in the digitalization work within the public sector.
In total, the research school budgets for 65 million Swedish crowns and is the largest national initiative of its kind. Johan Magnusson points out that they are not applying for external funding and are able to conduct the project thanks to Wallenberg, who shares the will to see more utilization of results from research.
In terms of resources, the research school is unique, with 12 PhD students who at a a daily basis work as digitalization managers, IT managers, chief architects, digitalization strategists, etc. on municipality, county council and state level. They take place as PhD students and join the network which is active within the research school. The network include 12 senior supervisors, who are Professors, Associate Professors and Lecturers.
A wish to work integrated
"We can't rely on the consultant industry to take on these questions. We work together with the ones who own the issue. The whole research consortium work with getting away from the thought of 'we' and 'they'. to be able to be much more integrated in the digitalization of the public sector. We want a huge effect, and you can't do that by locking the door and writing in your own chamber", says Johan Magnusson.
Risks when the digitalization is lagging behind
When the digitalization is lagging behind in some cities, it can cause an unequal access to the digital welfare. According to Johan Magnusson, the main issue is not that some people are lacking broadband connection, but that some municipalities are not providing up-to-date digital services to their citizens.
The challenge with the digitalization of the public sector is something that is taken very seriously, he believes. That becomes clear by the fact that the representatives from the public operations in many cases are key persons or high ranking executives in their respective organizations.
Voices from the PhD students in the research school Digital förvaltning
"To be able to combine the personal experience from the branch, the challenges of my municipality and the most recent research is really exciting. While we are spreading the research, we are creating networks and change where we are active. The research school is a brilliant idea to reach purposive digitalization in Sweden!"
-Petra Sintorn, Division Manager Medborgarcenter, Botkyrka municipality
"A dream came true since I now, together with 11 PhD students get to learn from the research elite within public digitalization and contribute to a more equal welfare by converting research to actual utilization in the operation."
-Marcus Matteby, CIO/CDO Sundsvall municipality
Text: Agnes Ekstrand
The research school is a research consortium that works for increased knowledge about digitalization within public organizations.
Read about the research school Digital förvaltning.
The project is conducted within the frames of Swedish Center for Digital Innovation (SCDI).
Read about SCDI.