The Ethics and Practice of AI Localism at a Time of COVID-19 and Beyond


Project timeline

October 2020                                                                                                                                         July 2022

October 2020                                 July 2022

GPS Map: Bild von Mohamed Hassan auf Pixabay

As they grapple with COVID-19 and other challenges, cities worldwide are mobilizing AI technologies to help trace patient contacts, automate decision-making, and monitor citizen movements. These developments are part of the emergence of AI Localism, a term coined by Stefaan Verhulst and Mona Sloane for a new and radical shift of AI governance from the national to the local level. While local AI leadership offers greater agility and potential for innovation, the urgency of the crisis has left little time to address ethical and human rights questions, and inform city officials of potential risks.

This project will identify successful, equitable and democratic global examples of local AI use and governance for COVID-19 as well as risks and challenges, including problematic AI applications, public concerns, and conflicts over AI use between cities and state and non-state actors. The project goal is to determine characteristics of success and share successful approaches that can be emulated by cities worldwide.

Research Output:

The AI Localism Canvas: A Framework to Assess the Emergence of Governance of AI within Cities

News and Updates

Principal Investigators

Prof Dr. Matthias Uhl, Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt


Prof. Stefaan Verhulst, The GovLab

New York University

Prof. Jeannie Marie Paterson,PhD, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Ethics

University of Melbourne

Mona Sloane, PhD, The GovLab

New York University


  • Andrew Young, The Gov Lab