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!

ICEGOV2022 workshop: Identification of high-value dataset determinants: is there a silver bullet?

This year the 15th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance known as ICEGOV2022 will be focused on “Digital Governance for Social, Economic, and Environmental Prosperity“. And we – me, Charalampos Alexopoulos, Nina Rizun and Magdalena Ciesielska are glad to announce our own a community-based, participatory, interactive workshop aimed at identifying High-Value Dataset (HVD) determinants towards efficient sustainability-oriented data-driven development.

Briefly about the workshop, our motivation, our objective and why we want to make you a part of it…

Today, Open Government Data (OGD) are seen as one of the trends that can potentially benefit the economy, improve the quality, efficiency, and transparency of public services, as well as transform our lives contributing to efficient sustainability-oriented data-driven development. Their scope, as well as actors who can work with them, do not meet any restrictions. In addition to “classical” benefits such as improving the quality, efficiency, and transparency of public services, they are considered drivers and promoters of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0 [1,2], including Smart cities trends. OGD is also a driver of economic growth, and, according to [3], the open data market size in 2020 was estimated at €184 billion and it is expected to grow in the coming years reaching €199.51 and €334.21 billion in 2025. However, the achievement of these benefits is closely linked to the “value” of the data, i.e. the extent to which the data provided by public agencies are interesting, useful and valuable for their reuse, creating value for society and the economy. High data availability however can disorient users when deciding which sources are best suited to their needs [4]. The practice demonstrates that the majority of data sets available on the OGD portals are not used, where only a few datasets create value for users [5], [6]. This is also in line with Quarati and Martino [4], who provided a snapshot on the use of 15 OGD portals, based on usage indicators available. This also applies to Latvia [7,8]. In other words, in order to gain benefit from the OGD, countries should open data cleverly, where not quantity, but quality and data value must be more important, since all benefits of the OGD can only be obtained if the data are re-used and transformed to value.

Here, the concept of “high-value datasets” comes, pointing to data that would create highest value to society and economy. The concept of “high-value data” comes into force here. High-value data are defined as the data “the re-use of which is associated with important benefits for society, the environment and the economy, in particular because of their suitability for the creation of value-added services, applications and new, high-quality and decent jobs, and of the number of potential beneficiaries of the value-added services and applications based on those datasets” [9]. Although the PSI directive is a step in this direction by announcing six categories [9], they appear to be generic and do not take into account the national perspective, i.e. the nature of these data sets will depend to a large extent on the country concerned [10,11].
It is therefore important to support the identification of high-value datasets, which would enhance the interest of users of the OGD by transforming data in innovative solutions and services. The research suggests that different perspectives appear in the literature to identify “high-value datasets” and there is no consensus on the most comprehensive, so a number of activities will be taken covering these perspectives but prior identified within the workshop.

This workshop expects to raise a discussion on the identification of high-value data sets for a common understanding of how this could be done in general terms, i.e. what possible activities will lead to better understanding and clearer vision of what are the most valuable data sets for the society and economics of a particular country and how they can be identified (how? who? etc.). The topic under consideration is very important these days, given that the opening up of data sets with high potential for their use and re-use is expected to facilitate creation of new products or services with positive economic and social impact [12]. However, identifying these data is a complicated task, particularly where country-specific data sets should be identified.

This workshop is a step in this direction and is a continuation of the paper presented at ICEGOV2021 [13], where a first step in this direction was taken by conducting a survey of individual users and SME of Latvia aimed at clarifying their level of awareness about the existence of the OGD, their usage habits, as well as the overall level of satisfaction with the value of the OGD and their potential. This time we aim to develop the framework for identification of high-value datasets (and their determinants) as a result of comprehensive study conducted jointly with participants of ICEGOV. All in all, the objective of the workshop is to raise awareness of and establish a network of the major stakeholders around the HVD issue, allow each participant to think about how and whether the determination of HVD is taking place in their country and how this can be improved with the help of portal owners, data publishers, data owners and citizens. Our main motivation is that, as members of the ICEGOV community, we could jointly answer the following questions representing the objectives of the workshop:

  1. How can the “value” of open data be defined?
  2. What are the current indicators  for determining the value of data? Can they be used to identify valuable datasets to be opened? What are the country-specific high-value determinants (aspects) participants can think of?
  3. How high-value datasets can be identified? What mechanisms and/ or methods should be put in place to allow their determination? Could it be there an automated way to gather information for HVD? Can they be identified by third parties, e.g. researchers, enthusiasts AND potential data publishers, i.e. data owners?
  4. What should be the scope of the framework, i.e. who should be the target audience who should be made aware of the HVD applying this framework? public officials / servants? data owners? Intermediaries? (discussion with participants OR direction for our discussion depending on the participants and their profile).

More precisely, the following “procedure” is expected to be followed:

  • STEP 0 (conducted by participants (not mandatory)): participants are invited to get familiar with open data portals of their country (higher coverage, i.e. of more than their own country, is welcome) by inspecting the current state-of-the-art in terms of both the content – data available, functionality with particular interest of HVD determination-related features (if any) including citizen-engagement-oriented features, features allowing to track the current interest of users etc.
  • STEP 1: A brief introduction to the current state-of-the art [approximately 45 minutes]: How HVD are seen by the PSI Directive and what tasks are set for countries regarding determination and opening HVD, how countries are coping with this (both from grey literature and from personal experience on Latvia), what approaches and methods for determining HVDs are known and why is there no uniform method / framework? A brief overview of the results of a survey of individual users and small and medium-sized businesses (SME) of Latvia on their view regarding the current state of the data, i.e. in which extent they meet their needs, and what data might be useful for them, and how their availability would affect their willingness to use these data. Overview of Deloitte report on HVD. What is the methodology used? What are the indicators used? What are the results of the study?
  • STEP 2: Considering the diversity of perceptions of the term “value” (depending on the domain, actor etc.), the discussion in the form of brainstorming (idea generation) is expected to be held providing as many definitions as possible, which are then used to provide a more comprehensive definition(s) considering different perspectives (domain- and actor-related) [approximately 30-45 minutes]
  • STEP 3: Discussion on current methods / mechanisms to determine the current value of the data and determining HVD in the form of brainstorming [approximately 20-30 minutes]
  • STEP 4: Idea generation on potential methods / mechanisms to determine the current value of the data and determining HVD in the form of brainstorming [approximately 20-30 minutes]
  • STEP 5: Iterative filtering of features, methods, approaches that could constitute the framework for determination of high value datasets in the form of DELPHI-like analysis [approximately 45 minutes]
  • STEP 6: Agenda for future research, networking [approximately 30 minutes]

This is a community-based, participatory, interactive workshop aimed at engaging participants – instead of asking participants to write a paper to be later presented during the workshop in the form of sit-and-listen, we expect to establish a lively and interesting discussion of novel ideas, answering existing questions and raising new ones. The audience of the workshop is ICEGOV participants without restriction on the domain they represent, affiliation, interests, knowledge and experience. Both OGD experts and those who are not familiar with OGD are welcome.

Join us this October (4 – 7 October 2022)!

References:

  1. Bargiotti, L., De Keyzer, M., Goedertier, S., & Loutas, N. (2014). Value based prioritisation of Open Government Data investments. European Public Sector Information Platform.
  2. Bertot, J. C., McDermott, P., & Smith, T. (2012, January). Measurement of open government: Metrics and process. In 2012 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (pp. 2491-2499). IEEE.
  3. Directive (EU) 2019/1024 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on open data and the re-use of public sector information
  4. European Comission, The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), online, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/digital-economy-and-society-index-desi, last accessed: 7.04.2021
  5. Gagliardi, D., Schina, L., Sarcinella, M. L., Mangialardi, G., Niglia, F., & Corallo, A. (2017). Information and communication technologies and public participation: interactive maps and value added for citizens. Government Information Quarterly, 34(1), 153-166.
  6. Huyer, E., Blank, M. (2020). Analytical Report 15: High-value datasets: understanding the perspective of data providers. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2020 doi:10.2830/363773
  7. Kampars, J., Zdravkovic, J., Stirna, J., & Grabis, J. (2020). Extending organizational capabilities with Open Data to support sustainable and dynamic business ecosystems. Software and Systems Modeling, 19(2), 371-398.
  8. Kotsev, A., Cetl, V., Dusart, J., & Mavridis, D. (2018). Data-driven Economies in Central and Eastern Europe
  9. Kucera, J., Chlapek, D., Klímek, J., & Necaský, M. (2015). Methodologies and Best Practices for Open Data Publication. In DATESO (pp. 52-64).
  10. McBride, K., Toots, M., Kalvet, T., & Krimmer, R. (2019). Turning Open Government Data into Public Value: Testing the COPS Framework for the Co-creation of OGD-Driven Public Services. In Governance Models for Creating Public Value in Open Data Initiatives (pp. 3-31). Springer, Cham.
  11. Nikiforova, A., & Lnenicka, M. (2021). A multi-perspective knowledge-driven approach for analysis of the demand side of the Open Government Data portal. Government Information Quarterly, 101622
  12. Ruijer, E., Détienne, F., Baker, M., Groff, J., & Meijer, A. J. (2020). The politics of open government data: Understanding organizational responses to pressure for more transparency. The American review of public administration, 50(3), 260-274
  13. Nikiforova, A. (2021, October). Towards enrichment of the open government data: a stakeholder-centered determination of High-Value Data sets for Latvia. In 14th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (pp. 367-372).


The International Day of Women and girls in Science and my new role – Keynote Speaker for the international Innovation and Smart Government (ISGov) conference

And today, celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science dedicated to celebration of both science and gender equality (as part of United Nations Transforming our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development), I would like to share the information about very special event, in which I am invited to take a part – this time the role of mine is to be a keynote speaker for the international Innovation and Smart Government (ISGov) conference!!!

In case you are interested in topics related to public innovation, smart government, public governance, open government data, and changes in government organizations, I believe that this event, in which I will act as a keynote, could be of interest for you.

This conference aims to discuss cutting-edge solutions for the technology in government implementations. Propose alternatives and solutions for practical governmental problems and advance research in emergent trends. This conference seeks for contributions representing 4 different tracks:

  • TRACK 1. Smart Government and Public Innovation focused on research for public innovation and smart government in this challenging times. This track seeks research on new frameworks, ideas and evaluation of e-government services. Topics include but are not limited to: One-stop government – service integration, Digital Transformation of public administration, Governance for Smart Government, Framework for smart government, Frameworks and model of IT adoption for the smart government, Framework for governance and management the e government, Smart government public policies, Evaluation of e-government services, Adoption and implementation of AI in public organizations, Impacts on public governance, e-Government;
  • TRACK 2. Artificial Intelligence in Government  focused on discussing AI applications, experiences, and unintended consequences, drawing on a variety of methodologies, techniques, applications, theoretical frameworks, and empirical cases, in order to capture the unique phenomena triggered by the increasing adoption of AI. Topics include but are not limited to: Governance of AI, Trust in AI, AI Ethics, Applications or cases of AI use, AI-based public policy and public policies for AI, Machine learning techniques useful for government efficiency, AI frameworks for government;
  • TRACK 3. Open Government Innovations and challenges focused on research about open government and related topics, such as government transparency, citizen participation, accountability, open data, among others. This track seeks to concentrate and disseminate research work on new case studies, theoretical frameworks, and evaluation of institutional openness policies. 
  • TRACK 4. New digital technologies in public services focused on the investigation of the improvement of public services through new digital technologies. The investigations can be frameworks, applications, case studies, methodologies and empirical cases that allow knowing the impact of these technologies on public services. Topics include but are not limited to: Internet of Things in public services, Social and Mobile Media for Public Administration, Web-mobile ethics, Virtual Communities, Mobile technology in public services, Digital culture, Digital surveillance, tracking, and monitoring, Digital divide, AI-based technologies, Big data in Public Services, Wireless Technology in public services.

Two keynote speeches will be delivered during this event, delivered by J. Ramon Gil-Garcia and me. As regards Dr. J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, he is an Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy and the  Director of the Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY). He is considered the most prolific author in  the  field of digital government research worldwide and in 2013 he was selected for the Research Award, which is “the highest distinction given annually by the Mexican Academy of Sciences to outstanding young researchers.” More recently, Dr. Gil-Garcia was named “One of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government” in 2018 and 2019 by Apolitical. Dr. Gil-Garcia is the author or co-author of articles in prestigious international journals in Public Administration, Information Systems, and Digital Government and some of his publications are among the most cited in the field of digital government research worldwide. His research interests include collaborative electronic government, inter-organizational information integration, smart cities and smart governments, adoption and implementation of emergent technologies, digital divide policies, and multi-method research approaches. This makes my participation as the second keynote to be even more pleasant for me as for relatively young researcher.

At this moment, the topics of our speeches are not very well known, since we both work actively on our ongoing studies and perhaps will be ready to present some the most recent results, but, hopefully, despite the final decision on the topic to be covered (within the general scope of the conference, of course) they will be of interest for the audience and will result in a lively and fruitful discussion!

And Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science! 👩‍🎓💻

Research and Innovation Forum 2022 and my own panel on data security

Research and Innovation Forum 2022, Soruce: https://rii-forum.org/

This year I have been invited to organize my own panel session to take place during the Research and Innovation Forum (Rii Forum). This invitation was a follow-up to several articles I recently published (***see below) and Chapter I was developing at that time, and I was very glad to accept this invitation. So, what is this panel about? It is dedicated to data(base) security and is entitled “Security of data storage facilities: is your database sufficiently protected?” and is a part of the track called “ICT, safety, and security in the digital age: bringing the human factor back into the analysis“.

Another question to be asked is “why?” The answer is as follows – today, billions of interconnected devices form an Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. With an increasing number of devices and systems in use, the risk of security breaches increases. This even more the case in times of COVID-19 pandemics, when pandemics affected not only human beings’ health and lives but also lifestyle of the society, i.e. digital environment substituted the physical one. This led to an increase of cyber-security threats of different nature. At the same time, while security breaches and security protection mechanisms have been widely addressed in the literature, the notion of “primitive” artifact, such as database seems to have not been paid same attention of researchers and practitioners. But are databases always secure and protected by default, i.e. do databases follow the “security by design” principle? Previous research and regular updates on data leakages suggest that the number and nature of vulnerabilities of databases is very high. Several factors contribute to that and a variety of different measures can be employed to address the issue. Their complexity varies significantly. The aim of the panel is to examine both, the current research on data security, threats posed by weak security of databases, especially NoSQL databases, as well as the approaches to inspect and identify this issue with regards to the question of who owns data storage facilities, security by data storage facility type and country – whether this is country-specific or rather data storage facility-specific question?

In addition, this event and track to which my panel belongs to expects to cover broader security- and safety- related issue. To get a brief overview, let me provide an abstract of this track, which is as follows:

“The inroads of ICT in the fields of safety and security are overwhelming. While several opportunities have thus been created to foster the capacity of our security and defense systems, ICT is also the source of new risks and threats, e.g. cybersecurity issues and cyberwarfare. Amidst the debate on the added value that ICT may bring to the fields of public order (safety issues) and defending society from (mostly) external threats (security issues), ICT, and especially artificial intelligence (AI), has been hailed as the golden means to increased military capacity. The objective of this track is to map and explore recent advances in the field and to dwell on the question of the role of the human factor in contemporary defense systems, including the notions of leadership, administration, human-to-human interaction, and human-computer interaction. This track will be of particular interest to researchers and practitioners engaged with topics and issues relating to the military, policing, security, safety, and others” (source: Rii Forum)

In case you are interested in either my panel, or the track or the event in general, book the date – the event is scheduled to run on April 20-22, 2022 and will take place in hybrid mode, i.e. both online and offline modes will be acceptable. For those who prefer on-site events, it would be beneficial to know that it will be in Athens, Greece.

*** just in case you are interested in those articles I have referred to at the beginning of this post: