The aim of ECePS ERA Chair in e-Governance and Digital Public Services – is to create an internationally recognized research team on e-governance, public e-services and data-driven public innovation, which will be capable of conducting cutting-edge research that examines three fundamental questions of scientific and practical importance:
- How can researchers and practitioners best utilize the vast amounts of data that is already being generated throughout the world (via existing public e-services)?
- How to harness the benefits of digital transformation of government while minimizing the associated risks and ensuring security, privacy and equal access?
- How can obstacles that prevent governments from implementing e-governance systems and solutions be overcome?
The ECePS project is implemented by the Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS) at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Launched on September 1, 2019, this 5-year project is supported from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the ERA Chairs instrument. ERA Chairs projects bring outstanding academics, with proven research excellence and management skills, to universities with potential for research excellence. They aim to attract and maintain high-quality human resources under the direction of an outstanding researcher (the 'ERA Chair holder'), while at the same time implementing structural changes necessary to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis.
ECePS will facilitate structural changes at the University of Tartu by strengthening the Center of IT Impact Studies unit so it can conduct cutting-edge research; better integrating key units of the University of Tartu; improving and modernizing Social Science curricula at the UT and raising the profile of the University and the topic of e-governance among academic and non-academic communities.
As the best research university in New Europe (THE Ranking 2018), the University of Tartu is particularly well placed to take the lead in developing new research capacities in a field that has strong potential to generate significant socio-economic impacts.
Founded in 2015, Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS) is an integrated teaching and research center at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies of the University of Tartu. The center uses big data generated by various Estonian public e-services (such as internet voting, mobile parking, e-health, digital ID, e-residency, etc) to estimate the economic, political and social impact of those services and to design new services and e-governance solutions. CITIS is one of the few research groups in Estonia focusing on quantitative assessment and modelling of the impact of public e-services. Through the creation of new courses and various teaching activities, CITIS researchers contribute to the development of a new generation of analysts and scientists, dedicated to understanding and improving the way that public e-services impact the daily functioning of the state. Lessons learned from Estonia are in turn helpful in promoting and developing public e-services internationally. In addition to research and teaching activities, CITIS team aims to contribute to the development of the e-state directly by creating and testing prototypes for new e-services, based on cross-usage of existing data.