Amanda Clarke is a recipient of the 2021 Early Researcher Award.
By Joseph Mathieu
Even as the Ontarian and Canadian governments are boldly considering digital reforms to meet their citizens’ needs, there is a risk that this work is undermining citizen trust, not bolstering it.
“We know very little about what Canadians actually want, and are comfortable with, when it comes to governments’ use of data and technology,” says Associate Prof. Amanda Clarke, who teaches in Carleton’s School of Public Policy and Administration. “We may be instituting reforms that erode confidence in the public sector.”
The slow uptake of the COVID Alert exposure notification app may be just the latest example of low public trust in government digital services. Although it collected minimal personal data, by April 2021 the app was downloaded by less than a fifth of all Canadians.
Clarke, who was named Carleton’s Public Affairs Research Excellence Chair in 2017, examines how policymaking and civic engagement intertwine in the digital age. Her new project funded by the Early Researcher Award (ERA), Building a Trusted Digital State: Canadians’ Views on Data Governance and Digital Service Reforms, assembles a nine-person team to explore this lack of trust.