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Rabea Willers is a doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster.

Her research is on the challenges and opportunities of the digital transformation for democracy’s legitimacy. She analyzes this timely issue by using the smart city (SC) as an empirical example in which the societal impact of a high density of digital technologies is accelerated through rapid urbanization on a global scale. By integrating sensors, the Internet of Things or Artificial Intelligence in urban governance, the SC aims to respond to cities’ challenges in innovative and efficient ways. Concurrently, the city is gaining importance as an arena of political influence. New models of multi-stakeholder processes enable citizens, civil society and businesses to consult and to collaborate with the government in different policy fields. The participation of citizens in urban governance, facilitated by information and communication technologies, is a major pillar of most smart city strategies. At the same time, issues related to data governance and sovereignty, privacy and surveillance arise. To what extent does the smart city offer a platform for citizens to participate effectively in democratic governance? What is the impact of digitization on the legitimacy of democracy in the smart city? The PhD project Athens 2.0 or Trojan Horse? – Digital Democracy in the Smart City aims to find answers to these questions in a comparative analysis of smart cities across the globe.

Rabea obtained a Master of Arts in International Relations from Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. In her dissertation, she examined whether a Habermasian model of deliberative democracy can improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of external statebuilding in post-conflict situations. She also worked as project officer at the Council of Europe, Directorate for Democratic Governance, in Strasbourg, France, and is currently employed at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Berlin, Germany.