Posts Tagged ‘electronics’

EFP Brief No. 158: MONA: A European Roadmap for Photonics and Nanotechnologies

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Photonics and nanotechnologies are highly multi-disciplinary fields and two of the principal enabling technologies for the 21st century. They are key technology drivers for industry sectors such as information technologies, communication, biotechnologies, transport, and manufacturing. Photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies can benefit from each other in terms of new functions, materials, fabrication processes and applications. The MONA Roadmap identifies potential synergies between photonics/nanophotonics and nanomaterials/nanotechnologies. The challenge of mastering nanoelectronics and nanophotonics science and technologies at an industrial scale is of utmost strategic importance for the competitiveness of the European industry in a global context.

EFMN Brief No. 158_MONA

EFP Brief No. 136: Policy Options for the Improvement of the European Patent System

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The purpose of the project “Policy options for the improvement of the European patent system” has been to assess whether the European patent system adequately fulfils its purpose of stimulating social and economic welfare through the enhancement of technological innovation, and to investigate if improvements can be made. It was commissioned by The European Parliament’s STOA panel (Scientific Technology Options Assessment) from the European Technology Assessment Group (ETAG) and carried out on its behalf by the Danish Board of Technology. The main target group, therefore, was the Members of the European Parliament.

The European Patent System under Pressure

Since October 2005, a group of five European scientific institutes (ETAG) has been providing scientific services for the European Parliament’s STOA panel on social, environmental and economic aspects of new technological and scientific developments. Inspired by a report from the Danish Board of Technology about the future of the European patent system, the STOA panel commissioned an assessment of the current strengthening and expansion of the patent system in order to identify key challenges and ways of dealing with them.

Combined Expertises

A working group was first established, comprising three legal and three economic experts, hands-on experience from the European Patent Office (EPO) as well as a rapporteur. This combination of expertise has been applied in order to bring together insights from these two disciplines, both of which are central to current debates about the workings of the patent system but whose knowledge is rarely combined in this way. The task of the group was to write a report with the following objectives:

  • to analyse the historical and present impact of the European patent system on innovation and diffusion of knowledge,
  •  to identify current key trends in the patent system,
  • to identify the challenges these trends present,
  • to point to policy options that may meet these challenges and, in the process, improve the functioning of the European patent system.

The analysis provided by the report and the policy options presented as a result draw on existing knowledge from legal and economic experts as well as on input from various stakeholders and peer reviewers. The group met five times to discuss the report contents and drafts prepared by the rapporteur assigned to the project. In between these meetings, various drafts of the report were exchanged and commented on through email communication.
A preliminary draft of the background analysis was presented and debated with MEP’s at a workshop at the European Parliament in November 2006. In attendance were 12 independent and more patent experts and stakeholders, all invited to present policy options and debate them with MEP’s and the working group. These contributions played an important role in compiling the report and writing the final draft. Furthermore, an interim version of the full report was commented on by several workshop speakers and peer reviewed by economic and legal experts. A final draft of the report was presented and debated at the European Parliament in June 2007 with MEP’s and various stakeholders.

Balancing Inventor’s Rights  with Societal Concerns

The fundamental premise of the report is that the primary purpose of a patent system is to enhance social and economic welfare by stimulating innovation and diffusion of knowledge. Balancing the exclusive rights of a patent granted to inventors with the overall societal concern of wider economic growth and social welfare is fundamental, because the reward offered to inventors in the form of exclusive rights provides the incentive to innovate, but if the reward is too excessive, it might hamper innovation and the distribution of knowledge. The trends and challenges identified by the working group all relate more or less to this balance.

Important Trends Influencing the Balance  of the European Patent System

1. Increasing number of inventions

New windows of opportunity have been opened by R&D in a number of technical fields, which individuals, firms and other organizations seize upon in order to produce an increasing numbers of inventions, which then require patent protection. Technological fields such as electrical engineering/electronics and biotechnology/pharmaceuticals have contributed greatly to this trend. Also nanotechnologies are set to repeat the explosion formerly seen by biotechnologies, which have made patent protection available in fields not previously appearing on the patenting scene.

2. New inventors

New inventors not formerly involved in patenting, such as universities, are appearing. This is the result of science, especially academic science, emerging as a fertile ground for inventions. Also countries that did not use the patent system before now tend to use the patent system more. For example the number of patent applications from China and India are growing fast and seem on the verge of catching up with the Korean patent office, where the patent portfolio of applicants is already as large as that of well-established European countries.

 3. Newly patentable subject matters

Science-based inventions contribute to the growth of patent applications to the extent that many of the new subject matters have been added in order to make room for science-based inventions. Most notably, this has occurred with gene-related patents.

4. Increasing demand for patent protection

Firms and other organizations that engage in inventive activity nowadays have a higher propensity than before to look for patent protection for “assertive” and “defensive” reasons. The explanation for this is that companies and not-for-profit research institutions are often worried about the possibility of other organizations ending up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting and, as a result, pushing them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly.

Challenges Facing the  European Patent System

From the assessment of key trends, the report identifies a range of challenges:

1. Coping with a rapidly increasing demand for patent rights without compromising the quality

Overall, the total number of patent applications is putting strain on the system and causing problems for patent examiners. Potentially, this pressure will mount further as, for instance, the increase in the number of countries engaged in inventive activities means the filing of more applications at the EPO. As a result, although it is difficult to document, the quality of patents is reported to be declining. The main challenge is to prevent this from happening within the European patent system.

2. Ensuring that too broad patents are not issued in Europe

The speed at which new subject matter and science-based inventions are introduced in the patent system makes it harder to assess the patentability requirements, especially the state of the art, and thus to determine whether the claimed invention is novel and involves an inventive step. An overall result is that too broad patents are occasionally granted and one of the effects is that innovation is hampered as other inventors are unable to work around the patents. The main challenge is to ensure that too broad patents are not issued within the European patent system.

3.  Alleviating the effects of patent thickets

The growth of patents in complex technologies, which require the assemblage of a multitude of inventions to move forward, has in certain areas, such as electronics, resulted in a particular form of patent behaviour. Defensive and strategic patenting has, for instance, resulted in patent thickets in some sectors, the consequences of which are generally undesirable in terms of creating too many, possibly overlapping patents, which can crowd a technological field and make it difficult and costly to navigate through. The main challenge is to alleviate the effects of patent thickets within the European patent system.

4.  Freeing company resources from trading patent rights and licensing

More companies are patenting and the effect is that a greater number of companies have to spend more time and effort on trading rights and licensing. Such resources may have been better used to innovate thus the main challenge is to ensure that companies are not forced to deal excessively with patenting and licensing and are ‘freed up’ to concentrate more on innovation.

5. Ensuring an increased level of transparency and political engagement

Increased interest in the system has resulted partly from the trends about emergent technologies and new inventors appearing and partly from a more general shift in emphasis toward issues of “governance”. The main challenge is to ensure that the European patent system is as transparent as possible and that the involvement of more experts, politicians and stakeholders in the future development of the system is secured.

Working Group Recommendations

The working group concludes that, left unchecked, the trends identified will have a damaging effect on the European patent system and may result in a negative impact on economic and social welfare. The working group developed the following policy options to meet the challenges:

1.Insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention

The recommendation on insertion of the economic mission of the patent system in the European Patent Convention involves the introduction of a preamble into the legislation. This insertion would state in clear terms what the purpose of the legislation is, namely to promote social and economic welfare. A suggestion for the wording of the preamble is as follows:

“The granting of patents serves the purpose of enhancing social and economic welfare by means of encouraging inventions and their diffusion. The protection provided by patents should be sufficient to ensure proper incentives to inventors. This should imply that patents should be granted in a proportionate and transparent manner, so as to ensure legal certainty”.

The preamble should be placed in the European Patent Convention and if the European Union is able to come forward with a community patent that same preamble is proposed to be included in the community patent legislation. The effect of a preamble with regard to, for instance, emerging technologies would be to guide legislators and to ensure the legislator considers whether the application of the patent system to an emergent technology makes sense from the point of view of the economic mission of the patent system.

2.Enhancing governance within the European patent system

The policy options under the governance heading are concerned with issues such as transparency and participation in activities related to the European patent system. One of the main challenges to be met regarding the debate about the future of the European patent system is ensuring an increased level of transparency and political accountability. First and foremost, this involves strengthening the role and expertise of the European Parliament in this field, given that it is a critical participant in these sorts of discussions. The other main challenge is trying to accommodate the rise in public interest and wish for involvement of civil society at large in matters concerning the European patent system.

The first recommendation of the working group is to establish a standing committee within the European Parliament that is dedicated to patent matters in order to formalize an internal structure within the European Parliament that will enhance its awareness of European patent issues.

The second recommendation is to establish an external advisory body to examine the impact of the European patent system on the innovative sector and other sets of interests in society. The findings it gathers and views it expresses will be part of a formalized dialogue with the European Parliament and, specifically, its standing committee on patents. This sort of body would be composed of experts in law, economics and patent-related matters. An involvement of various practitioners and stakeholders, such as consumer groups, is highly recommended.

Finally, the working group recommends the establishment of a more participatory environment within the EPO and the Commission by including more stakeholders, scientists, NGOs and consumers in the ongoing debate about the design of the European patent system.

3.Improving quality aspects in regard to patentability  standards and patent granting procedures

In order to strengthen the patent system and create stronger patents, the report recommends to look at two aspects: (i) the way in which patent offices apply the given standards for patentability and (ii) raising the standards themselves. Looking at the standards concerns the question of what is an invention and when is it valuable enough to be granted a patent. The report suggests taking a closer look at the concept of ‘inventive step’ to see if it is still fulfilling the function it is meant to have and concentrate on the concept of ‘who is a person skilled in the art’. Specific suggestions are listed in the report and include e.g. the introduction of quality management mechanisms in order to promote and monitor that consistent and predictable decisions are taken and to increase the awareness about the fact that patent offices are there to serve the general public interest and not the specific interests of applicants.

4.Dealing with emerging technologies

The patenting of emerging technologies gives rise to special concerns about patent quality in regard to both the patent system and the individual patent. The quality problem at the system level is about setting the standards for patents and deciding on what is going to be considered patentable subject matter and what is not. At the executive level (i.e. the EPO), the quality problem relating to emerging technologies deals with applications of patent standards in individual cases. The special problems in emerging technologies in this regard are that prior art can be limited and hard to find for an examiner. In order to avoid these sorts of problems, the report suggests bolstering the executive level by allocating additional resources to EPO examiners to better assess prior art and avoid too broad patents being granted, and finally, to ensure ongoing deliberations between politicians, experts and stakeholders on what is patentable and what is not.

5. Increasing access to patented inventions

Patents that crowd the market create a patent thicket that makes it difficult for an inventor to enter the market. In order to overcome a patent thicket, negotiations will have to be started with each and every patent owner in order to obtain a legitimate access to the patents and to obtain the necessary licences. The report suggests two different measures, which would facilitate access to patented technology. One is the license of right, which is a legal mechanism by which a patent holder voluntarily chooses to give general access to anyone willing to pay a certain license. The other possibility suggested is to facilitate access to a web of patents by the establishment of collective rights management models such as patent pools and clearinghouses. The report recommends further investigation of these models, especially in view of current EU competition law.

6.Facilitating defensive publications

The report recommends that the European patent system be geared more towards an increased use of publication of inventions rather than patenting per se. Both companies and not-forprofit research institutions are often worried about the possibility that other organizations will end up monopolizing a new technological field through patenting, which may push them to pursue strategic patenting activities to guard against that potential monopoly. But strategic patenting is a costly way to prevent monopolization. The publication of scientific results may achieve the same effect for free. Such a process is referred to as “defensive publishing”. And, in fact, firms for a long time have used defensive publishing in industry areas such as software. In cases when an inventor decides to defensively publish rather than patent, he gives up the potential of exclusive rights. In return though, a freedom to use the invention is secured for that inventor, and for others. For this kind of defensive publishing to be effective, publications must be made readily accessible to examiners so as to provide a helpful additional source of information, including the prior art. It is recommended therefore, that measures be introduced to facilitate the practice of defensive publications within the European patent system.

Authors: Bjørn Bedsted                                         bb@tekno.dk

Signe Skibstrup Blach                            ssb@tekno.dk

Sponsors: The European Parliament’s panel for Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA)
Type: A European technology assessment/foresight project with the purpose of proposing policy options for the improvement of the European patent system.
Organizer: The Danish Board of Technology/ETAG      www.tekno.dk and www.itas.fzk.de/etag Contacts: Bjørn Bedsted, Signe Skibstrup Blach (e-mail see above)
Duration: 2006-2007
Budget: 135,000€
Time Horizon: 2007
Date of Brief: February. 2008

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 136_ European Patent System

Sources and References

The Danish Board of Technology: www.tekno.dk STOA (the report is available for download under “final studies”): www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/default_en.htm ETAG: www.itas.fzk.de/etag/
The members of the group were: Mr. Robin COWAN, Professor of economics, BETA, Université Louis Pasteur and UNUMERIT, Universteit Maastricht; Mr. Wim Van der EIJK, Principal Director International Legal Affairs and Patent law, EPO; Mr. Francesco LISSONI, Professor of Applied Economics, University of Brescia; Mr. Peter LOTZ, Head of Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School; Mrs. Geertrui Van OVERWALLE, Professor of IP Law, University of Leuven, Belgium; Mr. Jens SCHOVSBO, Professor, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law and Mr. Matthew ELSMORE (rapporteur), Assistant Professor, Aarhus Business School-University of Aarhus.
The project and the report were coordinated by Bjørn Bedsted, project manager with the Danish Board of Technology. The project was supervised by Mr. Philippe Busquin, MEP and Chairman of the STOA panel.

EFP Brief No. 134: Future Challenge for Europe: Providing Security and Safety to Citizens

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

As stated in the recent EC Communication on ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe’ (SEC (2007) 1188), the European Union has a key role to play in ‘providing security and safety to citizens’. Especially in the aftermath of 11th Sept. 2001 security related issues are becoming an increasingly important facet of global society and have an increasing impact on economy and science. The issues are manifold and include protecting citizens and state from organized crime, preventing terrorist acts, and responding to natural and manmade disasters. Civil security issues are becoming more and more important to governments and national economies across the globe, and the EU is no exception. The EC sees security research as an important policy objective, which started in 2001 with a Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR) and is now the tenth theme of the FP7 Cooperation programme. Security and safety technologies are seen to have applications in many sectors including transport, civil protection, energy, environment, health and financial systems.

Analysing EFMN Documents: TextAnalyst

A selection of 160 foresight and futures studies was taken from the EFMN database. These were studies with different backgrounds, scopes, themes, horizons and on different scales. The semantic data-mining tool ‘TextAnalyst’ was employed to analyse the texts. First, out of the 160 studies, a small number of relevant studies was selected that had titles strongly related to the researched topic. TextAnalyst analysed these texts and found the most relevant keywords and semantic relations between the most important words. These terms were compiled into a keyword list for the researched topic. This list of keywords was used to analyse all 160 selected studies. The TextAnalyst
yielded all sentences containing any of the keywords, with an additional hyperlink in the text file allowing to view
the context in which the sentence occurred. The TextAnalyst also gave a semantic relation between the searched keywords and other words. The related terms thus identified were added to the list of keywords. The summary of sentences that contained one or more words from the list of keywords was manually read in the original context and if the sentence or the section where the sentence occurred was regarded as providing new or additional information, this section was copied into a text file. In order to avoid any extreme out-of-context copying of sentences, statements that were part of a scenario description were not added to the file. After this analysis of the 160 studies, a text file was created containing sections of the original studies with information related to the selected topic
and the reference to the original document. The dictionary for the analysis presented here consisted of the
following terms: anticipation, crisis, defence, defence, emergency, enemy, intelligence, military, NBC, NRBC, prevention, protection, risk, safety, secure, security, surveillance, terrorism, terrorist, threat and weapon. This analysis is exclusively based on the review of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies completed between 2000 and 2007 – most of them in 2004-2005. While most studies were carried out at a national level in Europe, the pool of sources also included seven studies conducted at the EU-level, eight Japanese national studies, the
global study AC-UNU Millennium project, the supranational study on information and communication technology (ICT) in the Nordic countries, and one Finnish study of regional scope.

Limitations of the Analysis

Attention should be paid to the fact that, while all 36 studies address certain safety and security issues, they are not all equally detailed. In particular, whereas some foresights (e.g. the UK Foresight) provide an in-depth analysis of the state-of-theart of technology, as well as a detailed forward look, the significance of some one-sentence statements, as they are typically made in Delphi studies such as the 8th Japanese National Foresight, may be more limited. Such statements have been considered very carefully so as not to bias the analysis. From the above, it follows that the following analysis – based on a restricted number of foresights – neither intends to be exhaustive nor to provide an overview of security and safety-related issues weighted according to their importance for future EU policies. However, it might provide some interesting insights about future safety and security threats – as predicted in foresights – as well as how future technological, societal or economic developments and policies might help to combat them. Since some of the analysed foresights are quite old, this means that some of the proposed actions could already have been implemented.

Safety & Security:  A Crosscutting Issue

Safety and security issues are generally related to all kinds of natural and human-induced (intentional and non-intentional) disasters or risks, which can affect individuals, societies or nations. Important technological and political tasks in the context of the protection of citizens and vital infrastructures have addressed a broad spectrum of issues such as future threats and vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures in key sectors (e.g. information systems, financial systems, industrial plants, public buildings, transport systems and infrastructures, communication networks, energy infrastructures, food distribution systems, etc) or the impact of terrorism and organized crime on the development of civil societies.

From the selected studies two major areas were identified bearing future risks for society: civil security and IT security. The area of civil security can be divided into subsections as follows:

  • terrorism and crime prevention,
  • ensuring the safety and security of critical infrastructures,
  • food and chemicals safety, and
  • threats from climate change and natural disasters.

Civil Security

Terrorism and Crime Prevention

Terrorism is expected to become a growing threat to all parts of society in the future mainly for two reasons. Firstly, due to the NRBC (nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical) weapons, the proliferation of ballistic, tactical and cruise missiles, and, on another level, the proliferation of small arms, the use of technological objects (e.g. civilian aircraft) as weapons and the transfer of technical know-how have multiplied risk factors for our societies. Also terrorist activities are becoming networked and are increasingly seeking points of entry into international business and, through corruption, into public administration.

The threat from terrorism must be counteracted by increased international cooperation on all levels and increased spending for security.

Another aspect raised by the study by the Finnish Committee for the Future is that because of continued synergy among, and miniaturization of, everything from chemistry sets and pharmaceutical manufacturing to genetic and nanotech engineering terrorist attacks will be much simpler to conduct in the future. Eventually an individual (single individual being massively destructive, SIMAD), acting alone, will be able to create and deploy a weapon of mass destruction.

In the broader context of terrorism, general crime prevention is an important aspect. The Japanese studies suggest that the security provided by governments will deteriorate in the future; thus people must provide for their own protection. Means like physical access control and burglary alarm systems for private homes are seen to be possible substitutes. The British study ‘Strategic Futures Thinking’ concludes that new technologies, such as DNA profiling, will prove increasingly vital in criminal trials as will more sophisticated detection, surveillance and monitoring devices in the wider field of crime prevention.

Safety and Security of Critical Infrastructures

Energy and transport infrastructures (so-called ‘critical infrastructures’) are crucial to economy and society. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that their safety and security is addressed in different foresights – at a national and supranational level. The Finnish foresight ‘Finnsight 2015’, for instance, stresses the fact that modern societies have increasingly become vulnerable in the sense that any malfunctioning or failure of critical infrastructures may paralyse the whole society. The foresights identify several threats to critical infrastructures:

  • Critical infrastructures increasingly rely on ICT applications and they more and more depend on the reliability of broad and complex ICT networks. Protecting critical infrastructures is therefore closely related to protecting the ICT networks they are based on. In this regard, ICT liability has to be ensured; it will also be particularly important to prevent criminal intrusion and the misuse of networked-based infrastructures.
  • Of course, on a global scale, terrorism is expected to remain one of the main threats in the future. Several foresights such as the Fistera study and the UK Foresight therematching them with the personal identification provided at the point of embarkation). Indeed, the terrorism threat is expected to give further momentum to the development of specific markets such as imaging technologies (allowing for instance the detection of suicide bombers in case remote identification and containment become reality).
  • Transport safety for citizens also implies reducing the risk of accidents. Thanks to the diffusion and increasing affordability of ICT, use of intelligent transport systems based on telematics as well as video-surveillance systems are expected to become more widespread to improve transport safety, for instance, by reacting in case fatigue, recreational drug use or medication impair the performance of the driver of a car or the pilot of a plane. Intelligent transport systems may also help maximise transport and logistics efficiency leading to benefits in terms of increased productivity and economic growth.

Food and Chemical Safety

Quite surprisingly, and despite their relevance for everyday life and everyone’s health, issues related to food safety is rarely addressed by the foresights screened. Some, however, do highlight that ensuring food safety requires assessing the long-term impact of harmful chemicals (e.g. heavy metals) on human beings, crops, as well as livestock. Food safety is therefore closely related to preventing damage to the environment due to chemicals in general. Standardized and socially approved tools for the risk assessment of chemicals should hence be developed. In this regard, chemical analysis is expected to be facilitated in the future through the use of miniature chemical analysis systems. Regarding functional foods, the monitoring of the long-term consequences of their use is underscored as essential. The EU may have a role to play in assessing health claims and the safety of new functional food products entering the market. Providing transparent information on health issues, safe threshold limits for specific functional food products, as well as on storage requirements will also contribute to promoting food safety for the consumer.

Threats from Climate Change  and Natural Disasters

Some studies emphasize the risk from climate change and natural disasters. Particularly in Japan the risk from natural disasters such as volcano eruptions, avalanches and earthquakes is addressed. The development of new predictive systems is proposed. Systems to observe disasters such as communications satellites, GPS, unmanned aircraft, and so on should be implemented in order to better understand situations after disasters have occurred and to be able to respond more swiftly.

Nearly all studies addressing climate change raise the issue of flooding – often in connection with the expected rise of the sea level. For instance the UK Foresight study claims that climate change will have a high impact under every scenario due to two threats. Firstly, the coasts are expected to be especially at risk: relative sea-level rise could increase the risk of coastal flooding by four to ten times. Secondly, precipitation is expected to increase flood risks across the country by two to four times. Flooding in towns and cities will be one of the greatest challenges in the future. Building in areas at risk from flooding should be avoided or, if inevitable, space should be provided to accommodate flooding in river and coastal areas. In this context, the development of effective modelling capabilities to predict flooding and manage flood routes in intra-urban areas should be pursued.

The study by the Finnish Committee for the Future also expects that change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents. Droughts in areas where 40% of the population depends on watersheds controlled by two or more countries call for new water management strategies that can mitigate the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.  The threat of storm surges in coastal areas will increase due to rising sea levels combined with changes in the number, location, and strength of storms.

Although flooding is seen as one of the main challenges of the future, at the same time, it is also acknowledged that predictions in this area are steeped in uncertainty, as in the case of climate change or demographic and socio-economic trends. Thus, one has to develop robust water management strategies that will yield satisfactory living conditions for a wide range of possible scenarios.

IT Security

IT security in general is seen as a major topic of the future. Society depends on vulnerable, complex information technology systems, which need to be protected.

One major issue is the protection of privacy in the sense of protection against loss of control over one’s personal data. Already nowadays, Wikis and mostly blogs may contain data and information about an individual that could easily be disclosed to unauthorised others, given the low levels of security and privacy protection implemented so far. This risk will be enhanced in the future because of the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI) with its heterogeneity (in contrast to closed, codesigned systems), its complexity of hardware and software (introducing the dependability challenge), its distribution of knowledge and resources (co-operation and interconnection), as well as the foreseen mobility needs (which introduces more vulnerability than in a static world). Radio frequency identification (RFID) implants in people can also cause a threat to privacy, since they permit easy and instantaneous identification and authentication of individuals. On the other hand, they can increase security, for example, by enabling parents to easily track down their children in case of abduction.

The major challenge is to balance privacy and security needs. There are various ways to protect privacy in the future. Legislation to protect data of a personal nature is one of them. Another is by implementing new security measures. The level of privacy and security will be defined more by the location from where data are accessed than by the place where they are actually physically stored.

Another fast-growing area will be the provision of trust and guarantee services in the payments markets. A suggested new measure is establishing a clearinghouse where banks can anonymously share information about security breaches. Also, telecommunication companies are increasingly offering payment services. The introduction of m-payment systems will require new risk management systems and co-operation between different providers. It also calls for improved protection of confidential data provided by customers. Although wireless networks already provide a more secure network than the ones offered in fixed-line markets, there is need for further measures. Among those suggested are enhanced use of digital signatures (a kind of unique electronic stamp), authentication and encryption. One study suggests replacing binary network security (access or not) by more complex security mechanisms thereby granting differential access to different actors.

Three Prevailing Issues

Taking the limits of the applied methodology into account, the analysis of 36 foresights and future-oriented studies, which were completed between 2000 and 2007, yielded three major security and safety issues: terrorism, IT security and natural disaster protection in the context of the global climate change. Concerning terrorism, studies seem to perceive growing future threats to all parts of society mainly because of modern societies’ increasing dependence on computer networks and critical infrastructures and also because of the growing proliferation of NRBC agents, ballistic missiles and small arms. In the broader context of terrorism general crime prevention is also an important aspect.
IT security in general is seen as a major concern of the future. Important issues in this field are related to the protection of privacy in terms of protecting against the loss of control over personal data and to the containment of future risks connected with the widespread use of ambient intelligence (AmI), RFID chips or wireless networks. The studies addressing natural disaster protection predict rising global threats of climate change causing flooding, storms and other weather anomalies in the future. Such studies also expect that the change in precipitation will result in water tables falling on all continents, which calls for new water management strategies capable of mitigating the effects of migration, conflicts, etc.

Authors: Anette Braun (braun_a@vdi.de),   Nils Elsner (elsner@vdi.de), Andreas Hoffknecht (hoffknecht@vdi.de),  Sabine Korte (korte@vdi.de), Sylvie Rijkers-Defrasne (rijkers@vdi.de), Olav Teichert (teichert@vdi.de) – Future Technologies Division at VDI TZ
Type: Overview
Date of Brief: February 2008

 

Sources and References

  • ‘Reforming the budget, changing Europe – A public consultation paper in view of the 2008/2009 budget review’, Commission of the European Communities, SEC(2007)1188 final, Brussels, 12.9.2007.
  • ‘Meeting the challenge: the European security research agenda’, report of the European Security Research Advisory Board, September 2006.
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and foods (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Electronics (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Environment (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Frontier (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Information and Communications (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Manufacturing (2005)
  • 8th Japanese Foresight – Social Technology (2005)
  • AC-UNU Millenium Project – Antiterrorism Scenarios (2005)
  • Austrian BMVIT Safety and Security Research 2011 – EFMN Brief 33 (2005)
  • Dutch NRLO – Functional Foods Position and Future Perspectives (2001)
  • EC Ambient Intelligence in Everyday Life (AmI@Life) (2003)
  • EC High Level Expert Group (HLEG) – Foresighting the New Technology Wave

– Converging Technologies – Shaping the Future of European Societies (2004)

  • EC IPTS – D1gital Territ0ries (2007)
  • EC IPTS – The Future of M-payments (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO – Future Bottlenecks in the Information Society (2001)
  • EC IPTS-ESTO Roadmapping Project – Healthcare Technologies Roadmapping – The Effective Delivery of Healthcare (2003)
  • Finnish Committee for the Future – Democracy and Futures (2006)
  • Finnish ESF – Uusimaa 2035 Scenario Project (2004)
  • Finnish TEKES – FinnSight 2015 (whole exercise) (2006)
  • FISTERA – Key European Technology Trajectories – 2nd Report (2004)
  • French FutuRIS (2004)
  • French Ministry of Defence – PP30 – Prospective Plan of the French Defense Policy in 30 Years (2004)
  • Turning the Water Wheel Inside Out. Foresight Study on Hydrological Science in The Netherlands (2005)
  • UK DEFRA – Climate Change Scenarios for the United Kingdom (2002)
  • Greek National Technological Foresight (Whole Exercise) (2005)
  • Ireland Marine Foresight (2005)
  • Japanese Optoelectronic Industry and Technology Development Association – Optical Technology Roadmap (2003)
  • Nordic Innovation Centre – ICT Foresight – Nordic foresight and visions on ICT in healthcare, security, the experience economy and production systems (2005-2007)
  • Strategic Futures Thinking – meta-analysis on published material on drivers and trends (2001)
  • UK National Foresight – Cyber Trust and Crime Prevention (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Exploiting the Electromagnetic Spectrum (2004)
  • UK National Foresight – Flood and Coastal Defence (2004)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight IT 2000 (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Foresight Financial Services (2000)
  • UK National Technology Foresight Programme – Crime Prevention Panel

(2000)

 

Download: EFMN Brief No. 134_Safety_and_Security

EFP Brief No. 115: SMART Perspectives of European Materials Research

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Modern materials sciences take as their objective to develop and tailor materials with a desired set of properties suitable for a given application. Next to conventional approaches, predictive modelling and simulation is more and more used. This results into a rapidly increasing knowledge base, allowing for more precise experimental set-ups, more precise simulations and tailoring of goal-oriented materials. They play a key role in the value chain and in product innovation. Although limited profits are made from materials, materials are technology enablers for new high added value products and therefore a key in innovation acceleration. More success and increased opportunities for applications is the outcome. The SMART project aimed at providing support for future strategic decisions in this sector to foster the strengthening of the European Research Area.

EFMN Brief No. 115 – SMART materials

EFP Brief No. 114: The Singularity Scenario

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Although the term ‘Singularity’ or ‘Technological singularity’ has already infatuated both the scientific and the science fiction com-munity alike throughout the 20th century, there is reason enough to report about the ongoing activities in this area. So far it is possible to distinguish between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related issues and the prospective fusion of emerging technologies such as nano-, bio-, information and cognitive technologies (NBIC) – also referred to as converging technologies. It is assumed that there will be an immense technological and consequently economic shift once those technologies surpass the boundaries of human intelligence in the 21st century.

EFMN Brief No. 114 – Singularity

EFP Brief No. 81: Aufbruch Musik – German Music 2020

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The music sector in Germany is going through major changes. Global technological and societal trends combined with major cuts in public spending for the cultural sector need to be faced. Right now these upcoming changes seem to be met by agitated melancholia instead of orchestrating these changes to a desired state of the future where music is established as an energy source for societal and personal development. The time to refer to the glorious German music transition rectifying public spending for ‘high quality’ music seems to be coming to an end. The border between different music lines has become more and more blurred.

EFMN Brief No. 81 – Aufbruch Musik – German Music 2020

EFP Brief No. 77: Technology for Industry Foresight – Kocaeli 2012

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Kocaeli is one of the leading industrial cities in Turkey. Technology Foresight exercise for industry in Kocaeli aimed at shaping the future of the region through university-industry collaboration by anticipating changes, developments and advancements in manufacturing technologies and increasing the effectiveness and competitiveness of the industry in the region.

EFMN Brief No. 77 – Technology for Industry Foresight – Kocaeli 2012

EFP Brief No. 74: Ukrainian STI 2025

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The key objective of the Ukrainian national ‘foresight-type’ program is to form priorities in STI – Science, Technology and Innovation with long-term (15-20 years) and medium-term (3-5 years) perspectives and to determine the most promising areas for R+D, which could receive state financial support. The second main goal of the program is to create a background for a permanent system of state-sponsored foresight studies in the country.

EFMN Brief No. 74 – Ukrainian STI 2025

EFP Brief No. 72: Dutch Hospitality 2020

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The Dutch Board for the Hotel and Catering Industry developed an online innovation database with innovations currently available for the hospitality sector. However, due to the large amount of new products, services, processes and business models identified there is no overview. In addition, the database is centered on innovations already available within the hospitality sector, while the large part of innovation origins from related sectors. The further development of the innovation database questions a wider view on several sectors to conduct an overview of the major developments in innovation within the hospitality sector.

EFMN Brief No. 72 – Dutch Hospitality 2020

EFP Brief No. 63: South African Benchmark 2020

Friday, May 20th, 2011

The overall goal of this foresight study is the identification of global technological trends, which will influence the competitiveness and future development of South African industries over the next 15 years. The study specifically focuses on innovation areas that hold the potential to reduce industrial dependency on foreign technology. Broad-based recommendations are formulated, intending to support the formulation of policies, strategies and programmes aimed at growing South Africa’s technology and innovation base.

EFMN Brief No. 63 – South African Benchmark 2020