Several summer activities – African Smart Cities Lab, One Conference 2022, EFSA & EBTC joint project, Guest Lecture, “Virtual Brown Bag Lunch”

Considering that in last weeks I was pretty active in delivering very many talks, let me use this post to summarize some of them thereby remaining them in my memory as well as allowing you, my dear reader, to pick up some ideas or navigate to some projects (both projects, initiatives, postgraduate programs, joint workshops or “lunchs” for business and academia) of your interest. So this post is less about self-advertisement and my role in the below discussed events as both panelist, keynote, guest lecturer, invited speaker and expert, but more about very interesting projects, initiatives and labs currently running in different countries and at different scales – local, national, regional and international. And as “thank you” for the organizers of each of them, I would like to shed a light on them in this post, drawing your attention to them!

All in all, this post is about participating as a panelist for One Conference 2022, keynote for African Smart Cities Lab projects’ workshop (Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia, South Africa, Rwanda, Benin, Switzerland), Guest Lecture for master and doctoral students of the Federal University of Technology – Paraná (UTFPR, Postgraduate Program in Production Engineering, Brasil), and invited speaker / expert for monthly “Virtual Brown Bag Lunch” (Mexico), and EFSA & EBTC joint project (Italy) on the creation of a standard for data exchange in support of automation of Systematic Review.

So, let’s start with the most spontaneous, namely “Integration of open data and artificial intelligence in the development of smart cities in Africa” workshop organized as part of the African Cities Lab Project, where I was invited as a keynote speaker. Actually, African Smart Cities Lab project is a very interesting initiative I recently was glad to get familiar with. It is a joint initiative led by École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), the Kwame Nkrumah’​ University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (Ghana), the UM6P – Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (Maroc), Sèmè City campus (Benin), the Faculty of Sciences of Bizerta – University of Carthage (Tunisia), the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and the University of Rwanda that aims to create a digital education platform on urban development in Africa, offering quality MOOC and online, continuing education training for professionals. It is also expected to act as a forum for the exchange of digital educational resources and the management and governance of African cities to foster sustainable urban development. The very first workshop took place July 5 in an online mode, where 9 speakers were invited to share their experience on this topic and allow setting the scene for the development of African Smart Cities, considering their potential, but also some bottlenecks.

All in all, two very fruitful sessions with presentations delivered by me, Vitor Pessoa Colombo, Constant Cap, Oualid Ali, Jérôme Chenal, Nesrine Chehata, AKDIM Tariq, Christelle Gracia Gbado, Willy Franck Sob took place and raised a lot of questions, finding the answers for many of them. My talk was titled “Open data and crowdsourced data as enablers and drivers for smart African cities” (see slides below…)

Here, let me immediately mention another activity – a Guest LectureThe role of open data in the development of sustainable smart cities and smart society“, I delivered to students of the Federal University of Technology – Parana (UTFPR, Brazil) and, more precisely so-called PPGEP program – Postgraduate Program in Production Engineering (port. Programa de Pós-Graduação em Engenharia de Produção), in scope of which I was pleasured to raise a discussion on three topics of particular interest – open data, Smart City, and Society 5.0, which are actually very interrelated. This also allowed me to refer to one of our recent studies – Transparency of open data ecosystems in smart cities: definition and assessment of the maturity of transparency in 22 smart cities – published together with my colleagues – Martin Lnenicka, Mariusz Luterek, Otmane Azeroual, Dandison Ukpabi, Visvadis Valtenbergs, and Renata Machova in Sustainable Cities and Society (Q1, Impact Factor: 7.587, SNIP: 2.347, CiteScore: 10.7).

And now, it’s time to turn to two events organized by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The first and probably the most “crowded” due to a very high rate of the attendance was the ONE Conference 2022 (Health, Environment, Society), which took place between June 21 and 24, Brussels, Belgium. It was co-organised by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and its European sister agencies European Environment Agency, European Medicines Agency, European Chemicals Agency, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), but if you are an active follower of my blog, you know this already, same as probably remember that I posted about this event previously inviting you to join us in Belgium or online. Since I have elaborated on the course of the event, its main objectives and tracks, I will not repeat this information. Instead, let me briefly summarize key takeaways with a particular focus on the panel for which I served as a panelist – the “ONE society” thematic track, panel discussion “Turning open science into practice: causality as a showcase”. It was a very nice experience and opportunity for sharing our experience on obstacles, benefits and the feasibility of adopting open science approaches, and elaborate on the following questions (although they were more but these one are my favorites):
💡Can the use of open science increase trust to regulatory science? Or does it increase the risk to lose focus, introduce conflicting interests and, thus, threaten reputation? What are the barriers to make open science viable in support to the scientific assessment process carried out by public organizations?
💡What are the tools/ methods available enabling, supporting and sustaining long term open science initiatives today and what could be envisaged for the future?
💡Do we need a governance to handle open data in support to scientific assessment processes carried out by regulatory science bodies?
💡How the data coming from different sources can be harmonized making it appropriate for further use and combination?

These and many more questions were discussed by panelists with different background and expertise, which were nicely presented by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) breaking down our experience in four categories – social science (Leonie Dendler, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR), open data expert (Anastasija Nikiforova,) EOSC Association, University of Tartu, Institute of Computer Science, lawyer (Thomas Margoni, KU Leuven ), regulatory science (Sven Schade, Joint Research Centre, EU Science, Research and Innovation). Many thanks Laura Martino, Federica Barrucci, Claudia Cascio, Laura Ciccolallo, Marios Georgiadis, Giovanni Iacono, Yannick Spill (European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)), and of course to Tony Smith and Jean-François Dechamp (European Commission). For more information, refer to this page.

And as a follow-up for this event, I was kindly invited by EFSA to contribute to setting the scene on the concept of ‘standards for data exchange’, ‘standards for data content’ and ‘standards for data generation’ as part of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Evidence-Based Toxicology Collaboration (EBTC) ongoing project on the creation of a standard for data exchange in support of automation of Systematic Review (as the answer to the call made in “Roadmap for actions on artificial intelligence for evidence management in risk assessment”). It was really nice to know that what we are doing in EOSC Association (Task Force “FAIR metrics and data quality”) is of interest for our colleagues from EFSA and EBTC.
Also, it was super nice to listen other points of view and get involved in the discussion with other speakers and organisers – Elisa Aiassa, Angelo Cafaro, Fulvio Barizzone, Ermanno Cavalli, Marios Georgiadis, Irene Pilar, Irene Muñoz Guajardo, Federica Barrucci, Daniela Tomcikova, Carsten Behring, Irene Da Costa, Raquel Costa, Maeve Cushen, Laura Martino, Yannick Spill, Davide Arcella, Valeria Ercolano, Vittoria Flamini, Kim Wever, Gunn Vist, Annette Bitsch, Daniele Wikoff, Carlijn Hooijmans, Sebastian Hoffmann, Seneca Fitch, Paul Whaley, Katya Tsaioun, Alexandra Bannach-Brown, Ashley Elizabeth Muller, Anne Thessen, Julie McMurray, Brian Alper, Khalid Shahin, Bryn Rhodes, Kaitlyn Hair. The next workshop is expected to take place in September with the first draft ready by the end of this year and presented during one of the upcoming events. More info on this will follow 🙂

In addition, I was asked by my Mexican colleagues to deliver an invited talk for monthly “Virtual Brown Bag Lunch Talks” intended for the Information Technologies, Manufacturing, and Engineering Employees in Companies associated with Index Manufacturing Association (Mexico, web-based). After discussing several topics with the organizers of this event, we decided that this time the most relevant talk for the audience would be “Data Security as a top priority or what Internet of Things (IoT) Search engines know about you“. Again, if you are an active follower, you will probably realize quickly that it is based on a list of my previous studies – study#1, study#2, study#3 and book chapter.

All in all, while these were just a few activities I was busy with during the last weeks and, these weeks were indeed very busy but extreeeemely interesting with so many different events! I am grateful to all those people, who invited me to take part in them and believe that this is just one of the opportunities we had to collaborate and there are many more in the future!

Editorial Board Member of Data & Policy (Cambridge University Press)

Since July 2022, I am elected by Syndicate of Cambridge University Press as an Editorial Board Member of the Cambridge University Journal Data & Policy. Data & Policy is a peer-reviewed, open access venue dedicated to the potential of data science to address important policy challenges. For more information about the goal and vision of the journal, read the Editorial Data & Policy: A new venue to study and explore policy–data interaction by Stefaan G. Verhulst, Zeynep Engin, and Jon Crowcroft. More precisely, I act as an Area Editor of “Focus on Data-driven Transformations in Policy and Governance” area (with a proud short name “Area 1“). This Area focuses on the high-level vision for philosophy, ideation, formulation and implementation of new approaches leading to paradigm shifts, innovation and efficiency gains in collective decision making processes. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Data-driven innovation in public, private and voluntary sector governance and policy-making at all levels (international; national and local): applications for real-time management, future planning, and rethinking/reframing governance and policy-making in the digital era;
  • Data and evidence-based policy-making;
  • Government-private sector-citizen interactions: data and digital power dynamics, asymmetry of information; democracy, public opinion and deliberation; citizen services;
  • Interactions between human, institutional and algorithmic decision-making processes, psychology and behaviour of decision-making;
  • Global policy-making: global existential debates on utilizing data-driven innovation with impact beyond individual institutions and states;
  • Socio-technical and cyber-physical systems, and their policy and governance implications.

The remaining areas represent more specifically the current applications, methodologies, strategies which underpin the broad aims of Data & Policy‘s vision: Area 2 “Data Technologies and Analytics for Policy and Governance“, Area 3 “Policy Frameworks, Governance and Management of Data-driven Innovations“, Area 4 “Ethics, Equity and Trust in Policy Data Interactions“, Area 5 “Algorithmic Governance“, Area 6 “Data to Tackle Global Issues and Dynamic Societal Threats“.

Editorial committees of Data & Policy (Area 1)

For the types of submission we are interested in, they are four:

  • Research articles that use rigorous methods that investigate how data science can inform or impact policy by, for example, improving situation analysis, predictions, public service design, and/or the legitimacy and/or effectiveness of policy making. Published research articles are typically reviewed by three peer reviewers: two assessing the academic or methodological rigour of the paper; and one providing an interdisciplinary or policy-specific perspective. (Approx 8,000 words in length).
  • Commentaries are shorter articles that discuss and/or problematize an issue relevant to the Data & Policy scope. Commentaries are typically reviewed by two peer reviewers. (Approx 4,000 words in length).
  • Translational articles are focused on the transfer of knowledge from research to practice and from practice to research. See our guide to writing translational papers. (Approx 6,000 words in length).
  • Replication studies examine previously published research, whether in Data & Policy or elsewhere, and report on an attempt to replicate findings.

Read more about Data & Policy and consider submitting your contribution!

Moreover, as a part of this journal, we (Data & Policy community) organize a hybrid physical-virtual format, with one-day, in-person conferences held in three regions: Asia (Hong Kong), America (Seattle) and Europe (Brussels). “Data for Policy: Ecosystems of innovation and virtual-physical interactions” conference I sincerely recommend you to consider and preferably to attend! While this is already the seventh edition of the conference, I take part in its organization for the first year, thus am especially excited and interested in its success!

Data for policy, Area Editors

In addition to its six established Standard Tracks, and reflecting its three-regions model this year, the Data for Policy 2022 conference highlights “Ecosystems of innovation and virtual-physical interactions” as its theme. Distinct geopolitical and virtual-physical ecosystems are emerging as everyday operations and important socio-economic decisions are increasingly outsourced to digital systems. For example, the US’s open market approach empowering multinational digital corporations contrasts with greater central government control in the Chinese digital ecosystem, and radically differs from Europe’s priority on individual rights, personal privacy and digital sovereignty. Other localised ecosystems are emerging around national priorities: India focuses on the domestic economy, and Russia prioritises public and national security. The Global South remains underrepresented in the global debate. The developmental trajectory for the different ecosystems will shape future governance models, democratic values, and the provision of citizen services. In an envisioned ‘metaverse’ future, boundaries between physical and virtual spaces will become even more blurred, further underlining the need to scrutinise and challenge the various systems of governance.

The Data for Policy conference series is the premier global forum for multiple disciplinary and cross-sector discussions around the theories, applications and implications of data science innovation in governance and the public sector. Its associated journal, Data & Policy, published by Cambridge University Press has quickly established itself as a major venue for publishing research in the field of data-policy interactions. Data for Policy is a non-profit initiative, registered as a community interest company in the UK, supported by sustainer partners Cambridge University Press, the Alan Turing Institute and the Office for National Statistics.

Read more about Data for Policy and become a part of it!

First International Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies Conference (EGETC)

As the general co-chair of the First International Conference in Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies (EGETC-2022), I sincerely invite you to consider your participation as authors and presenters or the attendees in this event.

First International Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies Conference
First International Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies Conference

Over the last decade, the importance of emerging technologies in government and public administrations has grown significantly. The growing demand for services that better meet changing user expectations for responsiveness and personalization, coupled with higher expectations of the role of government in the digital age, calls for a technologically mature public sector. There are many new emerging technologies serving as enablers to new forms of governance and novel applications in traditional governance functions, which role has been witnessed across various domains, including healthcare, medicine, education, tourism, and industry etc.. 

The aim of the First International Conference in Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies (EGETC-2022) is to provide a forum for academics, scholars, and practitioners from academia and industry to share and exchange the recent developments in the domain of eGovernment and governance of digital organizations to shed light on the emerging research trends and their applications. 

Topics of interest include, but not limited to:

  • Intelligent systems for coordination in crisis emergency management
  • Distributed ledgers and Blockchains: governance, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO)
  • Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data management for Public Sector
  • Privacy, security and legal Informatics – AI and Law
  • Open Data, Open Government Data: transparency, trust, public participation, co-creation and Open Innovation
  • Digital transformation and Society 5.0
  • Linked Data, Linked Open Data (LOD)
  • Semantic E-government applications
  • Public Sector Knowledge Representation
  • Decision Support Systems (DSS) in Digital Governance
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Cloud Computing
  • Bots, Automation agents, Self-learning systems 
  • Cryptocurrencies and incentive mechanism design
  • Multimedia and multilingual systems

It is particularly important that, in order to ensure the widest possible participation of communities, despite the availability of funding, the conference does not foresee any charges. I.e. both authors and presenters, and attendees/ listeners are welcome without registration fees.

First International Electronic Governance with Emerging Technologies  Conference (author: Anastasija Nikiforova)

In addition to the great team of organizers and members of the program committee, which has a rich list of outstanding experts, participants of this event will have an opportunity to enjoy the keynote speeches by Prof. Marijn Janssen – Full Professor in ICT & Governance at TU Delft, Netherlands, Dr. B K Murthy, CEO – Innovation and Technology Foundation, IIT Bhilai, Prof. Luis Martinez – Full Professor, University of Jaén, Jaén Spain. More information on their talk will follow…

Accepted papers presented at the EGETC2022 will be published in the proceeding published by Springer in Lecture Notes in Computer Science series (approval pending…). A short list of best papers will be invited for a post-conference publication in Government Information Quarterly (GIQ), Elsevier, Q1, Cite Score: 11.6, Impact Factor: 7.279 and Technological Forecasting and Social Change, An International Journal, Elsevier, Q1, Cite Score: 12.1, Impact Factor: 8.593.

If you are interested in submitting your paper, add to your calendar the submission date – May 30, while the event will take place during September 12-14, 2022.

Due to the unpredictability of the current situation in the light of pandemic, we expect to have a hybrid event, i.e. both online and on-site participation will be possible. For the later mode, we will be very glad to meet participants, who will be able to attend the event physically, in peaceful and spectacular city of Tamaulipas, Mexico in mid-September, 2022. Hope to meet you there!!!

2021 Summary

Here is the time to summarize the events, activities and achievements of 2021. Although there were some challenges and issues hat have been overcome, it was quite fruitful, and I am absolutely grateful for that. Therefore, in this post I would like to refer to positive events and their results.

Perhaps the first achievement to be mentioned is the LATA award. More specifically, this year, for my research, public activity and other achievements, the LATA (Latvian Open Technologies Association) has recognized me as a person of the year and has awarded me for promoting open data and open technologies. I believe it gave me strength, forces and inspiration for future activities.

So, I have worked hard this year, both independently and with some very skilled and intelligent colleagues, and this gave some results. In short:

  • 16 papers, including one chapter (some of them will be officially published in 2022), 6 conference papers, 9 journal articles, including 6 articles in Q1 journals. Some of these articles have been recommended by international organizations, including the world’s largest and most significant open data portal, the Open Data Daily (PSI Monitor), World Health Organization, Europe PMC and FreeMedArt etc.;
  • 7 international conferences attended as a speaker with 5 papers, 2 posters, 2 more talks on the results of ongoing projects and 1 invited talk. Thank you RCIS (International Conference on Research Challenges in Information Science), ICEGOV (International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance “Smart Digital Governance for Global Sustainability“), IDSTA (International Conference on Intelligent Data Science Technologies and Applications), IoTSMS (International conference on Internet of Things, Systems, Management and Security), EBW (European Biobank week), International Conference and Expo on Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials – it was a really great experience, and it is great that, despite the pandemic, you have managed to organize such great events with such a nice audience and brilliant speakers (both participants and keynotes).

Some of these activities were the results of very independent non-funded studies (mostly relates to open (government) data-related studies), others were the results of projects in which I was involved in recent months and years:

Over the next months, I have joined several associations and teams with which we have worked on different topics. In particular:

  • joined the above mentioned European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Task Force “FAIR metrics and data quality”;
  • became a part of Quantum Humanities Network hosted by the university of Jena (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Germany), which is represented by researchers from Germany, Spain, Finland, Latvia and Romania. With the colleagues forming this network, the application for CHANSE funding has been submitted and has already successfully passed the first round of review.
  • became an expert of the Latvian Council of Sciences – (1) Natural Sciences – Computer Science and Informatics and (2) Engineering and Technology-Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
  • became a part of BBMRI-ERIC node, Quality Management Task Force;
  • and even took part (although in a tiny activity) in providing an input for proposal for a European Interoperability Framework for Smart Cities and Communities (EIF4SCC) – the study conducted by Deloitte and KU Leuven (Belgium) for the European Commission.

In addition, although I had some experience in reviewing papers for both journals and conferences, this year I took a step further and became part of the Editorial Board and / or Editor for several venues and even became the general chair of one international conference. More precisely:

In addition, I have gained a new experience of delivering Invited Talks and Guest Lectures. The Invited Talk entitled “Open Data as a driver of Society 5.0: how you and your scientific outputs can contribute to the development of the Super Smart Society and transformation into Smart Living? was delivered during the International Conference and Expo on Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials, which organizers have invited me to speak about the open science and its role in current scientific community. For the Guest Lectures, they were two – (1) Open data: ecosystem, current and future trends, success stories and barriers, the University of South-Eastern Norway (USN) (Norway, web-based), (2) Open data potential, LU Faculty of Social Sciences/ Institute for Social and Political Studies, Latvia. I am grateful to both, the colleagues who have invited me and the audience – I was very surprised by your passionate for the knowledge and lively discussion we had at the end of these lectures. Although here I should also refer to my own students and particularly Accenture students – you really are a dream audience. And thank you for your very positive feedback you left – it is my pleasure and I am so pleased that you really appreciate the efforts I have invested in my lectures and courses and feel my support.

In addition, there were some local activities and achievements, such as:

  • developed and successfully launched a course for master and doctoral students (Faculty of Computer Science), entitled “Open government data in a data-driven world” (3 ECTS),
  • served as an expert / mentor for Latvian open geospatial data hackathon for pupils 2021 organized by the National Centre for Education Republic of Latvia – the team I have mentored, won!
  • served as an expert for the “Idea Laboratory 2021” in scope of the Emerging Technologies and Innovations Days of University of Latvia here the same, the team I have mentored, won!
  • supervised 15 thesis, successfully defended by my students. For two of them conference papers have been developed and already published, thus doing my best to find new talents and engage them in the scientific community;
  • delivered lectureOpen data: ecosystem, use-case, potential advantages and open questions to participants of the School of Excellence (in collaboration with the youth Foundation “Vertical” (“Vertikāle”)) in addition to invited lectures I mentioned above;
  • served as an advisor for the Faculty of Social Sciences/Institute for Social and Political Studies;
  • delivered a talk during the 14th conference of Latvian Association of Open Technologies “How to Stay Open in the New Era” entitled “Timeliness of open pandemic related data in national open data portals: a long way from the data publisher to the data user
  • participated in the 79th International Conference of the University of Latvia and presented two talks – (1) “User-centered analysis of the usability of Open Government Data (OGD) portals“ and (2) DQMBT or data quality model-based testing of information systems.

This is just a short list of the activities conducted and the achievements achieved, for which I would like to thank both 2021 and all those who have supported me. Thank you 2021 and bye! Welcome 2022!