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!

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:

International conference on the Intelligent Data Science (IDSTA2021): one conference – a ton of impressions

This November I had another great experience – participation in one of my favorite conferences – International conference on the Intelligent Data Science (IDSTA2021) collocated with Blockchain Computing and Applications (BCCA). Unfortunately, due to the pandemics we were not able to meet each other in person in Tartu, Estonia – a local organizer of this edition. But the organization was still perfect from their side. I was super delighted to serve a publicity chair for this conference for the second time (I mean IDSTA2020 and IDSTA2021).

IDSTA2021
Source: IDSTA2021

In short – 2 days (November 15-16), 50+ talks delivered by very skilled, experienced and knowledgeable researchers ready to establish and develop discussions around their topics during 13 sessions, 4 incredible keynotes delivered by Tarik Taleb, Omer Rana, Helen (Eleni) Karatza, Srijith Rajamohan, Ph.D.. Very lively discussions, insightful presentations and great environment!

Apart of serving as a publicity chair, I act as a reviewer, so I am a part of Program Committee, the session chair (for 2 sessions) and the (co-)author and presenter of two papers. One conference – 5 roles 😀 And what is even cooler is that my efforts have been also noticed by organisers and listed in Message from the General Chairs – it is always pleasant to notice you have been mentioned as a person, who contributed and whose contribution and efforts have been really highly evaluated.

Very briefly on my talks :

  • ShoBeVODSDT: Shodan and Binary Edge based vulnerable open data sources detection tool or what Internet of Things Search Engines know about you” (authored by Artjoms Daskevics and Anastasija Nikiforova) devoted to the study, which proposes a tool for non-intrusive testing of open data sources for detecting their vulnerabilities, called ShoBeVODSDT. It supports the identification of vulnerabilities at early security assessment stages and does not require the implementation of active and possibly disruptive techniques. ShoBeVODSDT uses two IoTSE (Internet of Things Search Engines) – Shodan and Binary Edge – by extending their features with the advanced capabilities built in it. It allows inspecting 8 predefined data sources, representing both rational databases, NoSQL databases and data stores – MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis, Elasticsearch, CouchDB, Cassandra and Memcached – on their vulnerabilities and their extent. Our observation shows that security features built into the database allow to protect against unauthorized access, but there are databases with low security features, where it is possible to connect to nearly all IP addresses by retrieving information from them. Even more, in some cases the databases, which do not use security mechanisms, have been already compromised.
  • Stakeholder-centred Identification of Data Quality Issues: Knowledge that Can Save Your Business” (authored by Anastasija Nikiforova and Natalija Kozmina), in scope of which (1) we perform a literature analysis to compile a list of the most commonly occurring data quality issues, (2) considering the diversity and quantity of different data quality requirements and/or dimensions, we reduce the list of defects after running a brainstorming session followed by DELPHI analysis involving 12 experts, (3) the resulting list of defects is validated by 30 users with advanced data quality knowledge by means of applying the data quality analysis to real-world data that are freely accessible to all stakeholders (specifically, a pool of 30 open data sets). This leads us to the list of key data quality issues, which may be of advantage to the data holder and the data user giving both a higher level of confidence that the data are error-free and can be used without causing financial losses for business. These requirements, however, are expected to be used as input of the specification for the web-based data quality analysis tool to be developed.

Great event, great people, great emotions and impressions! Thank you, IDSTA2021 and your supportive and super-friendly team!