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Covid-19 pandemic: raising the stakes for a ‘local health’ perspective

By , on 19 March 2020

By Dr Julius Mugwagwa, Lecturer in Innovation and Development at UCL STEaPP

For the last few years, I have been part of a group that has challenged the assumptions of ‘global health’ narratives. Together with colleagues Geoffrey Banda at the University of Edinburgh and Maureen Mackintosh at the Open University, we have drawn from our health sector research in Africa to argue that some of the key underlying assumptions of global health are fundamentally flawed. This includes the assumption that medical health technologies are readily available commodities; that utilisation and access can be generated in a timely manner from global pharmaceutical value chains; and that “global” advances in knowledge benefit all.

State Public Health Laboratory in Exton Tests for COVID-19

Courtesy of Governor Tom Wolf on Flickr

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Play-acting as Cyber Experts for a Day: The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

By , on 6 March 2020

By Natalia Maj, Jay Neuner, Jiehui Song and Malla Tedroff

Sleepless nights, ever-changing information and high-stress briefings to senior officials, business leaders and policy makers – sounds like a dream job, no? The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge gave our Unbreakable Cyber League team a 48-hour taste of just this life as cyber security experts, with all it entails.

The Unbreakable Cyber League

The Unbreakable Cyber League – Natalia, Jay, Malla and Jiehui

The Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, held 17-18 February in the iconic BT Tower, brought together university teams from across the UK to respond to a simulated national cyber security incident. Starting from an initial brief of what has occurred, the teams decide what they’d recommend to ministers and policymakers in charge – and then recalibrate response recommendations again and again as the incident evolves (i.e. worsens) over the competition period.

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A holistic approach to reasoning about the security of critical infrastructure systems

By , on 13 February 2020

By Dr Uchenna D Ani, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity, UCL STEaPP

Security designs should not consider technical details alone but should capture the bigger picture of the co-interacting participants that provide critical services.

Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) systems need cybersecurity, physical security and personnel security.  CNI systems use networks of diverse technologies (hardware and software) to enable the exchange of data and information. Generally, this involves socio-technical systems (STS) – people interacting with the technology and working together as a single system structured to achieve operational objectives.

IoT

Integrating the internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) with CNI systems enable greater capabilities for remote, autonomous sensing. Integration supports smarter control, monitoring, predictive maintenance, safety, and security management, but the convergence brings new security risks that demand serious attention. Geoff E, of the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), highlights the need to consider such systems as a whole rather than the sum of individual components. A holistic perspective is therefore necessary to achieve more all-embracing security.

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Data Protection Day

By , on 28 January 2020

By Dr Jose Tomas Llanos, Research Fellow in PACE (Privacy Aware Cloud Ecosystems) at UCL STEaPP

Data Protection Day (or Data Privacy Day outside Europe) is an international holiday held every year on 28 January. The declared purpose of this holiday is “to give everyone a chance to understand what personal data is collected and processed and why, and what our rights are with respect to this processing.”[1] The date was not randomly chosen: it is the anniversary of the opening for signature, in 1981, of Council of Europe’s Convention 108 for the Protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data.[2]

Convention 108 introduced the concept of ‘protection of personal data’, as well as important data protection principles that were later enshrined in the Data Protection Directive[3] and included (in a somewhat more elaborate fashion) in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)[4]: personal data must be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully (lawfulness and fairness); stored for specified and legitimate purposes and not used in a way incompatible with those purposes (purpose limitation); adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are stored (i.e. data minimisation); accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date (accuracy); and preserved in a form which permits identification of the data subjects for no longer than is required for the purpose for which those data are stored (storage limitation).[5]

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In the era of SDGs and Grand Challenges should all innovation be ‘social innovation’?

By , on 20 January 2020

By Joanna Chataway, Rebecca Hanlin and Julius Mugwagwa

Geoff Mulgan, newly appointed Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at UCL STEaPP, has an impressive new book out entitled ‘Social Innovation: How societies find the power to change’.  His ideas about social innovation made us wonder: In this era of changing goalposts for technological innovation, should we think about all innovation as to some degree being social innovation?

Innovation image

All innovation aimed at delivering social and environmental targets requires us to think about social factors, organisational change and other contextual realities. It could therefore be thought of as social innovation.  On the face of it, that would seem fine as a premise but with further reflection we concluded that things weren’t so simple.  It is certainly true that in the overwhelming majority of cases, technology alone won’t achieve social and environmental goals.  But, the difference between ‘innovation’ and ‘social innovation’ seems to us to relate to starting points and how technological innovation is conceptualised in relation to broader societal change.  Technological innovation, even when it is related to social and environmental goals, could be thought of as beginning with a scientific and technical focus, whereas social innovation does not.  The nature of this difference is worth exploring in more detail because the policy implications are important.

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