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COVID-19: IoT and Cybersecurity

fredrikskippervold27 August 2020

Fredrik Johan Skippervold is a UCL MPA Graduate within Digital Technologies and Policy 18/19. He holds a Bachelor of Law with Spanish and is currently a researcher in the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity.

Introduction

Over the past four months (April – July) my colleague Dr Catherine Wheller and I have been following the impacts of COVID-19 on cybersecurity and the Internet of Things (IoT) within the UK and beyond. The pandemic has inspired a range of IoT innovations to help stop the spread of the virus. We have written weekly landscape briefings (LB) that provide up to date information on the latest developments in this area. In this blog I will talk about how we set about collecting information and how we put together these reports, as well as highlight some of the major developments which include discussions surrounding privacy and ethics. To note, a final summary briefing will be posted alongside this blogpost. The summary, which can be found here, includes a detailed timeline of events, provides an overview of how IoT devices are helping to stop the spread of the virus (UK and globally) and presents discussions around so-called ‘immunity passports’.

Cybersecurity

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Coordinating Innovation (Policy): an Introduction to my PhD Research Topic

Andreas P Kopp11 August 2020

Andreas Kopp, a final year PhD candidate at UCL STEaPP and UCL IIPP and member of the Digital Technologies Policy Lab, elaborates on his doctoral research project and explains what’s so difficult about governing innovation. 

The challenge of innovation policy is coordination

There are no simple, prescribed solutions to such global issues as mitigating climate change or ensuring sustainable urban mobility. Instead, these require long-term contributions of many different economic sectors, governments, public agencies, and individual stakeholders. Increasingly, governments avert to drafting ‘mission-oriented’ innovation policies, i.e. systemic policies that cut across sectors in an attempt to enable the purposeful innovation of technologies towards a desired direction, rather than prescribing a closely defined solution. In other words, governments are ‘tilting the playing field’.

Shared, sustainable autonomous vehicles at Lindholmen Science Park, Gothenburg, Sweden (Kopp 2019)

Shared, sustainable autonomous vehicles at Lindholmen Science Park, Gothenburg, Sweden (Kopp 2019)

This often results in innovations that are not only technically highly complex, but also re-define human behaviour – so called socio-technical systems. They also span across different policy areas and therefore pose a new challenge for policy makers and policy implementers: they trigger coordination problems across policy domains and across government authorities, as existing policies might contradict each other, or relevant policies and regulations might be missing entirely.

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Responsible Governance of Digital Identity

nishant.anand.1928 July 2020

Digital Technology & Society

Our lives are increasingly spent with or around digital technologies. We use these technologies to work, interact with friends, institutions, government and the world around us. Digital technologies are not just a conduit for interactions, increasingly our sense of being is also intertwined with these systems. We use these technologies to project our image to the world, to build professional identity and to engage with communities that we identify with. Such technologies also provide institutions with a new level of intimacy with the people they serve and the promise of being able to provide tailored services efficiently and effectively.

Nishant Anand

Nishant Anand

Yet using such technologies comes with consequences. What would have been ephemeral conversations are now recorded, archived and made searchable. Our interactions through digital technologies are logged and analysed to provide more tailored services or predict future actions. The proliferation of digital technologies has led to concerns around surveillance, privacy infringement and a loss of autonomy.

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Access to Remdesivir for patients in the UK: it won’t be quick or cheap

saheli.burton9 June 2020

Saheli Datta Burton is a Research Fellow in Geopolitics of Industrial IOT Standards, with an interest in the global governance issues of emerging medical technologies. 

Gilead’s drug Remdesivir is increasingly being endorsed by various governments as an aid for improving recovery times in COVID-19 patients. Just last week, the Australian government endorsed Remdesivir as an aid to recovery. A week earlier, the drug was made available in the UK for compassionate use in emergency situations via the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) based on a 1-year provisional licensing arrangement between the NHS and Gilead. EAMS allowed doctors in the UK to administer Remdesivir outside the ongoing clinical trials without being penalised for malpractice.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by NIAID

The question is what will happen after the EAMS’ provisional license runs out in a years time? Can patients in UK still receive the drug? The answer depends on the price. Or, more precisely, on Gilead’s ‘rich country’ price mark-up for UK patients. And the higher the price, the longer it will take to become available to patients. Here’s why.

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On the Importance of Internet Governance

Leonie M Tanczer19 May 2020

Dr Leonie Maria Tanczer, Lecturer at UCL STEaPP, reflects on her experience having participated in Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders (NGL) e-Learning programme and makes a case for why the governance of the Internet should matter to all of us.

In my role as Lecturer in International Security and Emerging Technologies at UCL, I teach on the “Digital Technologies and Policy” specialisation for our Master’s in Public Administration. I am, thus, used to explaining the technical foundations, policy dilemmas, and stakeholders that make the Internet the kind of infrastructure we love and also rely on. Nevertheless, when the call to apply for the Internet Society’s Next Generation Leaders (NGL) programme hit my inbox, I felt compelled to sign up. I mean, who wouldn’t want to learn more about our beloved tool?!

What is the Internet Society?

The Internet Society is one of the core actors within the larger Internet ecosystem. Inititially, members of the Internet community were predominantly linked to US universities, where they developed technical standards and established the Internet’s basic functionality. However, over the last decade, the range of stakeholders involved in keeping the Internet up and running has significantly expanded. Nowadays, governments as much as the private sector, civil society, and intergovernmental organisations are engaged in “governing” the Internet.

Internet Society logo

The Internet Society logo

In particular the so-called “technical community” – which the Internet Society is part of – is concerned with maintaining and advancing the underlying architecture for the Internet, including protocols such as IPv6, standards, and other software and hardware specifications. Together with actors such as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Regional Internet Registries (RIR), or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society is active in furthering the success of the Internet and promoting the Internet core values (such as openness, access, and end-to-end connectivity). Whilst these activities are of profound importance and matter to each of us (because we want to browse faster, safer, and cheaper!), the “average” Internet user may not have heard of them.

To counteract this information vacuum, the Internet Society’s NGL e-Learning programme aims to helps professionals aged 20-40 learn the core elements of the Internet’s history, governance, policy principles, and actors. The four-week-long course is foundational (which gave me the perfect opportunity to test my knowledge) and open to individuals from around the globe. In many ways, the offering aids the Internet Society’s aspiration to foster “capacity building” and provides interested parties with an ability to dip their toe into the 101 of Internet Governance.

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