The United Nations Innovation Technology Accelerator for Cities in Hamburg (UNITAC Hamburg), Germany, was established to address the potential of digital technologies, data and innovation to contribute to sustainable urban development. The Accelerator uses innovation, prototyping and applied research methodologies to develop innovative solutions that accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals related to cities and urbanization.
UN-Habitat and UNITAC support national and local governments with their digital transition, applying a multi-level governance strategy to help build skills and capabilities to develop, procure and effectively use digital technologies in an ethical and inclusive way to make sure that no one is left behind.
Digital transformation is therefore critical to meet the demands of sustainable urban development. In recent years, digital innovations like civic technology, geographic information systems, the sharing economy, open data, and digital platforms have changed how people understand, manage and participate in cities. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced even greater urgency for local and national governments alike to bridge the digital divide especially for marginalised groups and informal settlement communities, build more efficient and secure data management systems, and protect citizens’ privacy when using digital services. These activities are the foundation for inclusive and resilient smart cities.