Koritnik on digital transformation of cities amid epidemic

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Ljubljana – Addressing the online CityxCity Festival 2021 conference, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik talked about the epidemic-era digital transformation of cities on Wednesday. Cities and communities are turning into starting points for society’s digital transformation, he said, warning that some of these efforts were underfunded.

Sustainable cities are the only solution for mitigating alarming environmental and socio-economic consequences of urbanisation and globalisation, the minister told the international conference, which is to run until Friday.

“The goal of smart cities and communities is to develop an integrated intelligent system that would contribute to economic activities, improve citizens’ opinion of public services, contribute to public security, sustainable environmental management and a more effective management of cities as well as efforts to tackle other challenges,” he said as quoted in a press release by the ministry.

When it comes to digital transformation endeavours, local communities are most fit for launching partnerships between stakeholders, developing skill sets, creating and using new data sources, investing in digital infrastructure and capitalising on digital opportunities prompted by the transformation, Koritnik said.

He added that providing a framework for stepped-up development should be up to the state. Same goes for setting standards and guidelines for local authorities to face challenges.

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The minister believes a new law that was proposed by the ministry and seeks to reduce the financial burden of municipalities contributes to such efforts.

The epidemic has revealed that there is room for improvement in this area, he said, noting that a number of municipalities were underfunded in their efforts to transform digitally. Even though Slovenia provides special services and tools, these are not interoperable and hence do not yield desired results.

“That is why I wish Slovenian municipalities would make solutions uniform in terms of opening up data and interoperability,” Koritnik said, adding that a planned open call for smart cities would help improve the situation.

Slovenia is stepping up preparations for the EU Council presidency in the second half of this year. The ministry plans to focus on digitalisation during the stint, particularly artificial intelligence. Moreover, it is to address challenges regarding the implementation of advanced technologies and related cyber security issues.

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