On 3-5 November 2021, I joined research professionals from across the Network for Advancing and Evaluating the Societal Impact of Science (AESIS) to discuss state of the art methods for evaluating the impact of research. Participants showcased institutional best practices, stakeholder engagement strategies, as well as how to leverage emerging data sources. In this blog, I reflect on the conversations initiated at the conference, drawing upon insights gained throughout my research at STEaPP.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
From Cyber Stalking to Spyware: what do we know about stalkerware in intimate partner violence situations?jay3 July 2020
By MPA candidates Jay Neuner, Maddalena Esposito and Thomas Bermudez
Smartphones and other devices are the lifelines of the modern world. Navigation, information, connection – these critical resources are right at our fingertips.
But for some, the very devices used to enrich their lives are now being used to endanger them. Through “stalkerware” – apps that, once downloaded onto a device, can geo-locate, log keystrokes, access other apps, and much more – others can monitor and even manipulate the device user’s activity. Some of these apps are nearly undetectable. Worryingly, reports from news media, advocacy groups, academia, and others are finding that many perpetrators of these malicious acts are none other than a spouse or other intimate partner, as one of many means of perpetrating intimate partner violence (IPV).
These apps represent a disturbing evolution in the phenomena of cyber-stalking, online harassment, and other technology-facilitated abuse. While those fields are increasingly well-documented (though still limited by the relative nascency of the digital realm), stalkerware’s use in IPV is an emerging field requiring much more research.
Dr Leonie Tanczer, Lecturer in International Security and Emerging Technologies, summarises key takeaways derived from a unique guest lecture on digital policy careers in the public sector. A must-read for anyone interested in working in this space!
The students of our Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) “Digital Technologies and Policy” degree had quite a treat recently. Two officials from the “Cyber Security and Digital Identity Directorate” at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) – joined us virtually (as one does nowadays!) to share some useful insights on what to expect when aspiring to a career in the UK Government. We would like to highlight some useful observations and tips.