AI for Open Data or Open Data for AI? An invited talk for BBDU Development Program «Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development»🎤

Recently I was honored to contribute to Babu Banarasi Das University (BBDU, Department of Computer Science and Engineering) Development Program «Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development» with the talk entitled “Artificial Intelligence for Open Data or Open Data for Artificial Intelligence?”. More precisely, this series of workshops is organized for the industry, i.e. representatives of industry, who want to get an insight on the current advances in various topic-related areas (AI in the sustainability context) from people representing research and academia, which is organized by AI Research Centre, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, Babu Banarasi Das University (India), ShodhGuru Research Labs, Soft Computing Research Society, IEEE UP Section, Computational Intelligence Society Chapter. My session, for instance, was attended by more than 130 attendees, which I consider to be a very good rate!


Regarding my talk, I was delighted to deliver in the last day of this event, being also a guest of honor for this event, when we speak about “Artificial Intelligence for Open Data or Open Data for Artificial Intelligence?” – in short, not OR but rather AND. In other words, AI for Open Data and Open Data for AI, where open data serves as a valuable asset for AI (of course, if a list of prerequisites is fulfilled), while AI defines new prerequisites for open data we should think of.

At the same time, although their combination is considered to play a transformational role in human society, and especially in prominent areas, as we discussed today, this “magic duo” is not always about “unicorns and ice creams“, where the current state-of-the-art suggests that open data my pose also certain risks.

Probably the most expressive example of such, I referred to, is an example, when based on easily obtainable open data on toxic molecules collected over the years, AI has managed to create 40,000 molecular associations potentially usable as biochemical weapons in just 6 hours. And while not all of them are actually usable, and the need to synthesize them still remains, some associations correspond to known chemical weapons with one even more toxic than the VX nerve gas, identified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

So here comes a very interesting dilemma between openness as a philosophy and making data open, and threats it may pose, if used by a malevolent actor.

We also briefly touched a topic of risks associated with AI (although both perspectives of so-called cyber-pessimists and cyber-optimists in this regard were considered), open data, and their combination, along with the long list of benefits they can bring, including their contribution to the sustainability being in line with the general idea of this event.
And, of course, we could not ignore the topic of green AI and a strong need to consider FATE principles (Fairness, Accountability, Transparency & Explainability).

All in all, it was a very nice experience and the audience so curious and passionate of topics elaborated on within this 6-days long event with speakers from both continents Asia, Africa, America and Europe (represented by me! 🤓🤓🤓). Exceptional audience with so relevant questions leading to a lively and fruitful discussion being of interest for both participants and speakers. Glad to be part of it and get this experience!

This is just in a few words, although at some point I plan to extend this post with more details and thoughts.

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!!!