This session will explore the socio-technical challenges and the potential benefits of the rapid digital transformation induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing in particular on cities and regions. It will bring together a group of experts with diverse backgrounds - from sociology to geography and from economics to broadband-related data analytics - to present empirical findings and discuss policy responses to such accelerated digitalisation processes.
We know from research at various scales that digital technologies may lead to economic growth and to new and potentially disruptive innovations. These processes tend to have strong spatial footprints and generate new opportunities and challenges for cities and regions. Importantly, they shape and are shaped by longstanding socio-economic and geographical divides. The COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns increased our dependency on digital technologies and drastically accelerated digitalisation processes in various domains: from selling products online to working from home and from creatively designing services and products that can be consumed online to building robust lockdown-proof business models and digital infrastructure. This session will explore the socio-technical challenges and the potential benefits of this rapid digital transformation by bringing together a group of experts with diverse backgrounds, from sociology to transport and from economics to data analytics.