Industry Data for Society Partnership


Press Release: “On Wednesday, a new Industry Data for Society Partnership (IDSP) was launched by GitHub, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), LinkedIn, Microsoft, Northumbrian Water Group, R2 Factory and UK Power Networks. The IDSP is a first-of-its-kind cross-industry partnership to help advance more open and accessible private-sector data for societal good. The founding members of the IDSP agree to provide greater access to their data, where appropriate, to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in areas such as sustainability and inclusive economic growth.

In the past few years, open data has played a critical role in enabling faster research and collaboration across industries and with the public sector. As we saw during COVID-19, pandemic data that was made more open enabled researchers to make faster progress and gave citizens more information to inform their day-to-day activities. The IDSP’s goal is to continue this model into new areas and help address other complex societal challenges. The IDSP will serve as a forum for the participating companies to foster collaboration, as well as a resource for other entities working on related issues.

IDSP members commit to the following:

  • To open data or provide greater access to data, where appropriate, to help solve pressing societal problems in a usable, responsible and inclusive manner.
  • To share knowledge and information for the effective use of open data and data collaboration for social benefit.
  • To invest in skilling a broad class of professionals to use data effectively and responsibly for social impact.
  • To protect individuals’ privacy in all these activities.

The IDSP will also bring in other organizations with expertise in societal issues. At launch, The GovLab’s Data Program based at New York University and the Open Data Institute will both be partnership Affiliates to provide guidance and expertise for partnership endeavors…(More)”.

Learnings on the Importance of Youth Engagement


Blog by  Anna Ibru and Dane Gambrell at The GovLab: “…In recent years, public institutions around the world are piloting new youth engagement initiatives like Creamos that tap the expertise and experiences of young people to develop projects, programs, and policies and address complex social challenges within communities. 

To learn from and scale best practices from international models of youth engagement, The GovLab has develop case studies about three path breaking initiatives: Nuortenbudjetti, Helsinki’s participatory budgeting initiative for youth; Forum Jove BCN, Barcelona’s youth led citizens’ assembly; and Creamos, an open innovation and coaching program for young social innovators in Chile. For government decision makers and institutions who are looking to engage and empower young people to get involved in their communities, develop real-world solutions, and strengthen democracy, these examples describe these initiatives and their outcomes along with guidance on how to design and replicate such projects in your community. Young people are still a widely untapped resource who are too-often left out in policy and program design. The United Nations affirms that it is impossible to meet the UN SDGs by 2030 without active participation of the 1.8 billion youth in the world. Government decision makers and institutions must capitalize on the opportunity to engage and empower young people. The successes of NuortenbudjettiForum Jove BCN, and Creamos provide a roadmap for policymakers looking to engage in this space….(More)” See also:  Nuortenbudjetti: Helsinki’s Youth BudgetCreamos: Co-creating youth-led social innovation projects in Chile and Forum Jove BCN: Barcelona’s Youth Forum.

Screen Shot 2022 12 06 At 1.36.48 Pm

Using private sector geospatial data to inform policy


OECD Report: “Over the last decade, a large variety of geospatial data sources, such as GPS trajectories, geotagged photos, and social media have become available for research and statistical applications. These new data sources are often generated, voluntarily or non-voluntarily, by private sector organisations and can provide highly granular and timely information to policymakers. Drawing on experiences of several OECD countries, this paper highlights the potential of combining traditional and unconventional data from both public and private sources, and makes the case for facilitating co-operation between data providers and organisations responsible for public policy. In addition, the paper provides a series of best practices on leveraging private data for the public good and identifies opportunities, challenges, and ways forward for public and private sector partnerships on data sharing….(More)”.

Can citizen deliberation address the climate crisis? Not if it is disconnected from politics and policymaking


Blog by John Boswell, Rikki Dean and Graham Smith: “..Modelled on the deliberative democratic ideal, much of the attention on climate assemblies focuses on their internal features. The emphasis is on their novelty in providing respite from the partisan bickering of politics-as-usual, instead creating space for the respectful free and fair exchange of reasons.

On these grounds, the Global Citizens’ Assembly in 2021 and experimental ‘wave’ of climate assemblies across European countries are promising. Participating citizens have demonstrated they can grapple with complex information, deliberate respectfully, and come to a well thought-through set of recommendations that are – every time – more progressive than current climate policies.

But, before we get carried away with this enthusiasm, it is important to focus on a fundamental point usually glossed over. Assemblies are too often talked about in magical terms, as if by their moral weight alone citizen recommendations will win the day through the forceless force of their arguments. But this expectation is naive.

Designing for impact requires much more attention to the nitty-gritty of how policy actually gets made. That means taking seriously the technical uncertainties and complexities associated with policy interventions, and confronting the political challenges and trade-offs required in balancing priorities in the shadow of powerful interests.

In a recent study, we have examined the first six national climate assemblies – in Ireland, France, the UK, Scotland, Germany and Denmark – to see how they tried to achieve impact. Our novel approach is to take the focus away from their (very similar) ‘internal design characteristics’ – such as random selection – and instead put it on their ‘integrative design characteristics’…(More)”.

Active Urbanism and choice architecture: Encouraging the use of challenging city routes for health and fitness


Paper by Anna Boldina, Paul H. P. Hanel & Koen Steemers: “Inactivity is one of the major health risks in technologically developed countries. This paper explores the potential of a series of urban landscape interventions to engage people in physical activity. Online surveys were conducted with 595 participants living in the UK by inviting them to choose between conventional pavement or challenging routes (steppingstones, balancing beams, and high steps) using photorealistic images. Across four experiments, we discovered that 80% of walkers claim they would pick a challenging route in at least one of the scenarios, depending on perceived level of difficulty and design characteristics. Where a challenging option was shorter than a conventional route, this increased the likelihood of being chosen by 10%, and the presence of handrails by 12%. This suggests that people can get nudged into physical activities through minor changes to the urban landscape. We discuss implications for policy makers and urban designers…(More)”.

How data restrictions erode internet freedom


Article by Tom Okman: “Countries across the world – small, large, powerful and weak – are accelerating efforts to control and restrict private data. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the number of laws, regulations and policies that restrict or require data to be stored in a specific country more than doubled between 2017 and 2021, rising from 67 to 144.

Some of these laws may be driven by benevolent intentions. After all, citizens will support stopping the spread of online disinformation, hate, and extremism or systemic cyber-snooping. Cyber-libertarian John Perry Barlow’s call for the government to “leave us alone” in cyberspace rings hollow in this context.

Government internet oversight is on the rise.

Government internet oversight is on the rise. Image: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

But some digital policies may prove to be repressive for companies and citizens alike. They extend the justifiable concern over the dominance of large tech companies to other areas of the digital realm.

These “digital iron curtains” can take many forms. What they have in common is that they seek to silo the internet (or parts of it) and private data into national boxes. This risks dividing the internet, reducing its connective potential, and infringing basic digital freedoms…(More)”.

Digital Sovereignty: From Narrative To Policy?


Report by EU Cyber Direct: “The debate in Europe about digital sovereignty, technological sovereignty, data sovereignty and strategic autonomy has been building over recent years at both the EU level and the level of individual Member States. The different concepts – and their diverse interpretations – cover the sovereignty concerns of citizens, states and the EU itself, and range from the protection of fundamental rights to addressing geo-economic strengths and vulnerabilities and European military concerns. The language of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy has become integrated into the policy statements and documents of the European Union, even if definitions of the terminology remain scarce. While there has been much analysis of these new narratives of digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy, less attention has been paid to the alignment – or misalignment – between these narratives and the EU policies that would translate the concepts into everyday life.

This lacuna was the point of departure for the EU Cyber Direct Research Seminar co-organised with The Hague Program on International Cyber Security on 18 March 2022 under the title Digital Sovereignty: From Narrative to Policy?, the results of which are published in this publication…(More)”.

The potential of Facebook advertising data for understanding flows of people from Ukraine to the European Union


Paper by Umberto Minora et al: “This work contributes to the discussion on how innovative data can support a fast crisis response. We use operational data from Facebook to gain useful insights on where people fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion are likely to be displaced, focusing on the European Union. In this context, it is extremely important to anticipate where these people are moving so that local and national authorities can better manage challenges related to their reception and integration. By means of the audience estimates provided by Facebook advertising platform, we analyse the flows of people fleeing Ukraine towards the European Union. At the fifth week since the beginning of the war, our results indicate an increase in the number of Ukrainian stocks derived from Ukrainian-speaking Facebook user estimates in all the European Union (EU) countries, with Poland registering the highest percentage share (33%) of the overall increase, followed by Germany (17%), and Czechia (15%). We assess the reliability of prewar Facebook estimates by comparison with official statistics on the Ukrainian diaspora, finding a strong correlation between the two data sources (Pearson’s 𝑟=0.9r=0.9, 𝑝<0.0001p<0.0001). We then compare our results with data on refugees in EU countries bordering Ukraine reported by the UNHCR, and we observe a similarity in their trend. In conclusion, we show how Facebook advertising data could offer timely insights on international mobility during crises, supporting initiatives aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced people, as well as local and national authorities to better manage their reception and integration…(More)”.

Abandoned: the human cost of neurotechnology failure


Article by Liam Drew: “…Hundreds of thousands of people benefit from implanted neurotechnology every day. Among the most common devices are spinal-cord stimulators, first commercialized in 1968, that help to ease chronic pain. Cochlear implants that provide a sense of hearing, and deep-brain stimulation (DBS) systems that quell the debilitating tremor of Parkinson’s disease, are also established therapies.

Encouraged by these successes, and buoyed by advances in computing and engineering, researchers are trying to develop evermore sophisticated devices for numerous other neurological and psychiatric conditions. Rather than simply stimulating the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves, some devices now monitor and respond to neural activity.

For example, in 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a closed-loop system for people with epilepsy. The device detects signs of neural activity that could indicate a seizure and stimulates the brain to suppress it. Some researchers are aiming to treat depression by creating analogous devices that can track signals related to mood. And systems that allow people who have quadriplegia to control computers and prosthetic limbs using only their thoughts are also in development and attracting substantial funding.

The market for neurotechnology is predicted to expand by around 75% by 2026, to US$17.1 billion. But as commercial investment grows, so too do the instances of neurotechnology companies giving up on products or going out of business, abandoning the people who have come to depend on their devices.

Shortly after the demise of ATI, a company called Nuvectra, which was based in Plano, Texas, filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Its device — a new kind of spinal-cord stimulator for chronic pain — had been implanted in at least 3,000 people. In 2020, artificial-vision company Second Sight, in Sylmar, California, laid off most of its workforce, ending support for the 350 or so people who were using its much heralded retinal implant to see. And in June, another manufacturer of spinal-cord stimulators — Stimwave in Pompano Beach, Florida — filed for bankruptcy. The firm has been bought by a credit-management company and is now embroiled in a legal battle with its former chief executive. Thousands of people with the stimulator, and their physicians, are watching on in the hope that the company will continue to operate.

When the makers of implanted devices go under, the implants themselves are typically left in place — surgery to remove them is often too expensive or risky, or simply deemed unnecessary. But without ongoing technical support from the manufacturer, it is only a matter of time before the programming needs to be adjusted or a snagged wire or depleted battery renders the implant unusable.

People are then left searching for another way to manage their condition, but with the added difficulty of a non-functional implant that can be an obstacle both to medical imaging and future implants. For some people, including Möllmann-Bohle, no clear alternative exists.

“It’s a systemic problem,” says Jennifer French, executive director of Neurotech Network, a patient advocacy and support organization in St. Petersburg, Florida. “It goes all the way back to clinical trials, and I don’t think it’s received enough attention.”…(More)”.

The Wireless Body


Article by Jeremy Greene: “Nearly half the US adult population will pass out at some point in their lives. Doctors call this “syncope,” and it is bread-and-butter practice for any emergency room or urgent care clinic. While most cases are benign—a symptom of dehydration or mistimed medication—syncope can also be a sign of something gone terribly wrong. It may be a symptom of a heart attack, a blood clot in the lungs, an embolus to the arteries supplying the brain, or a life-threatening arrhythmia. After a series of tests ruling out the worst, most patients go home without incident. Many of them also go home with a Holter monitor. 

The Holter monitor is a device about the size of a pack of cards that records the electrical activity of the heart over the course of a day or more. Since its invention more than half a century ago, it has become such a common object in clinical medicine that few pause to consider its origins. But, as the makers of new Wi-Fi and cloud-enabled devices, smartphone apps, and other “wearable” technologies claim to be revolutionizing the world of preventive health care, there is much to learn from the history of this older instrument of medical surveillance…(More)”.