Assessing the ethical impact of new standards for more effective crisis management

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Panagiotis Loukinas | Research Analyst

Date: 27 January 2021

The Ethical Impact Assessment (EIA) is a systematic approach to mapping information flows, identifying challenges and opportunities and providing a set of recommendations on best practices for prioritising ethics and societal values during the design, development, and implementation of technologies, products, standards, and processes.

The analysis of the ethical and societal issues of (pre)standardisation processes in the crisis management domain can help to facilitate informed decision-making and effective protection of ethical and societal concerns.

Trilateral Research leads the Ethical Impact Assessment (EIA) EIA in the STRATEGY project; a project that focuses on standardising crisis management solutions across Europe.

This work has begun with a literature review on ethical and societal values and an analysis of how proposed standards may impact selected fundamental rights.

In addition to this desk research, throughout the project lifecycle, Trilateral will conduct interviews and workshops with project partners, advisory board (AB) members and other stakeholders, to discuss how the proposed pre-standardisation framework takes into account and/or conflicts with those values and fundamental rights. By consolidating and analysing all relevant information, the Ethical Impact Assessment will provide a set of recommendations on how to mitigate potential ethical and societal risks.

Why is an EIA important in STRATEGY?

Carrying out an Ethical Impact Assessment when designing the STRATEGY pre-standardisation framework will help to provide a better understanding of the socially desirable impacts and value systems within which the STRATEGY framework will be implemented.

Trilateral will refer to a set of principles recognized by the World Trade Organisation as important to be observed when developing international standards, guides and recommendations. These principles are:

  • Transparency
  • Openness
  • Impartiality and consensus
  • Efficiency
  • Voluntary application
  • Coherence
  • Independence from special interests

The Ethical Impact Assessment aims to ensure that the STRATEGY project observes these ethical and societal values, prioritising them in the design, development, and implementation of the pre-standardisation framework.

What have we found so far?

Based on these principles, the following issues within the standardisation processes have been identified and will be addressed in the development of the project:

  • Ensuring that the standard development process is inclusive.
  • Making sure that standards are not difficult to understand and interpret by end-users and entities that are affected by them
  • Putting in place procedures that will enable the implementation of standards in future.
  • Making standards and the standardisation processes more accessible to interested stakeholders.
  • Increasing awareness around standards in the crisis management field.
  • Preventing any adverse effect standards may have, especially on SMEs.

Who benefits from the Ethical Impact Assessment?

Conducting an Ethical Impact Assessment increases the benefits of STRATEGY’s outputs for first responders and civil protection bodies, as well as the general public. By collaborating with interested stakeholders throughout the development and implementation of the project’s pilots, end users can be reassured that  the Ethical Impact Assessment will maximize the positive impact while reducing the negative implications of relevant standards and solutions. Thus, conducting this Ethical Impact Assessment will increase the benefits of STRATEGY for members of standardisation bodies, end-users in the field of disaster response, and society at large.

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