Writings on what makes Europe and the world tech

Germany's digital council, deep tech definition and parallel urbanisms

Unlike the medium length posts that zoom in one topic, the #discoveries series is a collection of recently stumbled upon stories where the common denominator is curiosity. Here comes the first one of these.

The German Digital Council

Harvard's Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society recently published a case study observing the works, contributions and challenges of the German Digital Council (GDC). Set up in 2018, it brought independent expertise to act as a sounding board and propose new ideas to Germany's digital transformation journey (great dashboard).

The GDC is made up of 9 members with backgrounds in academia, startups and industry. Prior to this report little was know about the council – a fact mentioned in the report – and this was by design to help its members operate efficiently and focus on their 3 goals:

  1. “Ask critical and constructive questions about government projects from a digital perspective”
  2. “Alert the government to new technical and economic developments”
  3. “Act as a symbol for “digitalization” and its supporters during its interactions with the government”

It ran workshops, trained senior government leaders and helped encourage the creation of a country wide data strategy. Composed by one of the GDC's members the report is very open about the challenges that it ran into and features quotes and learnings that are meant to help other countries seeking to implement a similar concept. This was a very interesting read.

What is deep tech?

According to a report by BCG and Hello Tomorrow, deep tech ventures are characterized by four main attributes:

  1. Problem-oriented, not technology-driven
  2. They combine more than one (advanced) technology
  3. Focus on bits and atoms – rather than just the former
  4. They “rely on a deeply interconnected ecosystem of actors”

China's 100 million people city clusters vs the “One-Minute City”

In the last 20 years, about 400 million people relocated into cities across China. By 2035, five major city clusters are expected to be established in the Middle Kingdom:

Combined, these are expected to generate almost 50% of the country's GDP and house an equal percentage of its population that is connected via a grid of 16 new high speed railway lines.

Street moves – the “One-Minute City”

Another approach to city planning is coming from Sweden that is planning to redesign every street. It's “an order of magnitude smaller” than Paris' 15 minute city approach, and functions at the street level and what lies immediately at the front door (vs the surrounding radius of the French approach).

Street moves will delegate urban planning decisions to local communities which can decide how much (or little) parking space a street should have via consultations and workshops. The ultimate goal is to “rethink...every street in the country over this decade” and engage the local community (I would equate it to giving ownership in startup terminology) in rethinking these pieces of pavement.