With the rapid increase in the urban population ratio in the world, cities are faced with the challenge of not only staying up-to-date in addressing the needs of an ever-growing urban population, but also with the increasing presence of technological innovations in all areas of governmental services. While technology opens up new modes of sustainability and access that can drive positive change, it can also damage existing structures of inequality when the focus shifts away from people’s needs.

The Digital Rights Governance project emphasizes the need to protect human rights in the digital realm as part of governments’ responsibilities to the people they serve.

Tirana, the capital and the largest city of Albania, was one of four european cities selected in an open call in March 2022 to pilot the project of “Digital Rights Governance” coordinated together with UN Habitat, Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, Eurocities and UCLG.

The staff of the municipality of Tirana has already organized a series of events online meetings with local and foreign experts as well as citizens of Tirana from where one of the main conclusions that has emerged, is that citizens are ready for digital transformation, but they also need cooperation with other institutions to implement digital law.

The city of Tirana is facing challenges related to the lack of awareness of digital rights, that is why the Municipality of Tirana will also identify priorities and actions to make digital human rights a reality.

In an interview with the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, z. Ermir Puka, General Director of Information Technology, Innovation and Data, says that “Every citizen of Tirana is important to us. What is even more important for us is that they live in a city with freedom of expression, information, communication and data privacy.”

The Digital Rights Governance Project aims to address local challenges related to the governance of digital technologies using a human rights-based approach. The discovery phase began with an open call aimed at understanding local challenges and exploring opportunities to address them by strengthening their digital human rights policies, initiatives and strategies.

The needs assessment and development of a capacity building program for public officials is being developed in several phases.

After various local seminars on Digital Rights, the city of Tirana identified two main challenges:

  • Training of civil servants: With the aim of increasing awareness and work capacities for human rights in the digital sphere.
  • Drafting an agenda for digital rights: Since Tirana was the European Youth Capital 2022, the municipality expressed the need to draft a Digital Rights Agenda for the city with a special focus on young people.

Current phase of the project

Two workshops were held (September 16 and 19, 2022) with Tirana Municipality staff to define priorities, identify key participants and establish clear actions. Three main priorities were established from the workshop:

  1. Assessment of the current needs and capacities of public officials in the Municipality of Tirana;
  2. The development of a capacity building program for these public officials;
  3. Targeting the needs of different communities within the city.

A questionnaire addressed to the staff of the institution was also carried out to understand their knowledge on the topic of digital rights and the areas or methods they preferred for a future training program. The questionnaire was completed by 102 public officials and these were some of the most interesting findings:

The results showed that more than half of the participants assessed the implementation of training in the following areas as very necessary:

  • Addressing the ethical issues of technology
  • Encouraging the protection of human rights in technology
  • Measures to address bias and discrimination against certain groups in the use of technology
  • Rritja e përfshirjes dhe aksesueshmërisë digjitale
  • Methods to ensure that people have access to and control over data collected about them
  • Privacy, security and safety related to the use of data and technology
  • How to promote community participation and public engagement in technology decisions
  • How to ensure transparency and accountability in government technology-related decisions
  • How to ensure that technology and data are publicly owned and open for easy access
For more information you can read in Digital Human Rights in Tirana: Raising awareness among public officials / Cities for Digital Rights