CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme will participate in the Urban AI Observatory launched by Barcelona, London and Amsterdam


These three cities are promoting the Observatory as part of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights framework in order to study ethical models of artificial intelligence deployed in urban areas

CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme will participate in the Urban AI Observatory, a new tool for monitoring the ethical application of artificial intelligence in cities launched by Barcelona, London and Amsterdam within the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights framework.

As a key component of current digitalisation trends, artificial intelligence is a priority policy area for cities. The collection and processing of the data on which urban artificial intelligence algorithms base their decisions do not always respect citizens' right to privacy. These three cities are therefore seeking to set minimum standards to ensure that the development of these emerging technologies respects the principles of technological humanism and digital rights and promotes democratic technologies.

“In recent years, cities have given a boost to their digitalisation programmes, and ensuring a fair and ethical digital transformation is a key part of this. As no international legislation currently regulates artificial intelligence, cities have an opportunity to start working in this area. The Observatory is intended to be a support institution for this goal”, says Agustí Fernández de Losada, Senior Research Fellow and Director of CIDOB’s Global Cities Programme.

Andrea García Rodríguez, Researcher and Project Manager on the Global Cities Programme, will lead CIDOB's research within the Observatory framework: “This year at the Observatory we will be working on a guide to help cities develop urban artificial intelligence applications in an ethical way. We will publish an atlas showing the artificial intelligence projects cities are implementing that can serve as a reference resource. Later this year, we will also issue a report on the social and ethical impact of facial recognition systems in cities. This study will be presented in November within the context of Barcelona's Smart City Week.”

The Observatory will also benefit from the participation of UN‑Habitat and this week introduced itself to the more than 50 cities that currently form the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, which works at local and international levels to achieve a fair, ethical and democratic technological model. As more Coalition cities around the world begin to design local artificial intelligence policies, the Observatory will provide evidence-based knowledge and support for addressing inclusion and human rights in their policies and local digital strategies.