• News
  • April 10, 2019
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Weekly Briefing: What does ‘digital’ really mean?; nudge units revolutionise government

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

Nudge units have launched a revolution in governmentOver 200 public bodies are using the power of suggestion to steer citizens’ behaviour. In this explainer, we discuss what behavioural insights is, how you can use it in your work and why critics have called it everything from a passing trend to a method of mass manipulation. (Apolitical)

It’s time to bring your team to the forefront of the digital revolution. In our latest Leadership Lab, Tom Loosemore, co-founder of the UK Government Digital Service, explains what ‘digital’ really means — and how it can be used to transform government. Watch his 10-minute talk now. (Apolitical)

Join our first Ask Apolitical Anything. We often get questions from members like: How do you chose which case studies to publish? What’s your business model? What will the platform look like next year? And why do you do awards? We want to try a new way of answering them. Join our founders and team on Twitter for our first Ask Apolitical Anything at 3 pm BST on April 16. #ApoliticalChat

In Buenos Aires, radical transparency is rebuilding trust in the judicial system. The city’s criminal court has made data on all its rulings available on Twitter and a public Google Drive. By removing technical terms and legalese, it’s made the justice system transparent and accessible. (Pablo Hilaire Chaneton & Pablo Casas, City of Buenos Aires)

Empathy is key to good policymaking — here are six ways to develop yours. Reaching out to citizens on an emotional level is often more effective than citing experts. From patience and active listening to role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, here’s how to build compassion. (Joe Maltby, US Federal Government)


The European Commission is looking for proposals on how governments can harness blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies to solve social problems.

Submit Yours

Evolving Cities

The UN wants to build floating cities to mitigate climate change. They would be built on platforms anchored to the sea floor and connected in a ring. Some 90% of the world’s largest cities are vulnerable to flooding, but critics warn floating communities could end up as a luxury reserved for the super-rich. (Thomson Reuters)

Paris will crack down on electric scooters. The city wants to encourage greener transport, but e-scooters are putting pedestrians — particularly infants and the elderly — at risk. It will fine users for riding and parking on the pavement and charge companies an annual fee. (The Guardian)

Health and Safety

Australia banned social media-streamed violence. The legislation, passed in the wake of New Zealand’s deadly Christchurch attacks, carries huge fines for social media companies — and jail for their executives — if they fail to quickly remove violent material from their platforms. Tech companies strongly oppose the law. (Bloomberg)

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

The world’s most ambitious law to control vehicle emissions was enacted in London. Drivers entering the city centre will have to pay a $16 daily fee if their car doesn’t meet new emissions standards. Pollution has led to more than 4,000 hospital admissions over the past three years in the UK capital. (New Scientist)


“The dirty secret of almost all government is that we don’t know whether we’re doing the right thing” —David Halpern, chief executive of the Behavioural Insights Team

Gender Equality

Cervical disease has dramatically dropped in Scotland thanks to the HPV vaccine. A national immunisation program, introduced 10 years ago, led to a 90% drop in pre-cancerous cells. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women under 35 in the UK. (BBC)

British Colombia will provide free menstrual products for all students. It’s the first Canadian province to require that all schools supply tampons and pads in school bathrooms. “This is a common-sense step forward that is, frankly, long overdue,” the education minister said. (CBC News)

And finally

Twitter blocked a campaign run by the French government using its own fake news law. France requires online political campaigns to declare who paid for them, and how much was spent. Twitter rejected the government’s voter registration campaign, #OuiJeVote, because of its lack of transparency. (Euronews)

(Picture credit: Pixabay)


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