Trilateral Insights – April 2024

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Trilateral Research |

Date: 12 April 2024

Get the latest insights from Trilateral in our new monthly article, featuring the latest developments from across our innovation and research teams.

Insights | Data Science, Research and Sociotech Innovation (DARSI)

Trilateral’s DARSI team develops a tool to show people the least polluted travel routes

Air pollution is a global health emergency, causing over six million deaths per year. Trilateral’s STRIAD:AIR models air pollution and its direct impact on health and costs (economic and social) in local areas across the UK and Ireland, providing actionable insights on how to decrease the risks it poses.

Nanditha Plakazhi, in Trilateral’s DARSI team, has been working on the development of a route mapping tool to integrate within STRIAD:AIR. This tool works by suggesting optimal routes for travel, with the goal of minimising the user’s exposure to pollution. The tool works by combining data about street networks, the concentrations of pollutants (specifically nitrogen dioxide) at various locations, and additional metrics like the locations of street lighting (for user safety on dark journeys). The outcome is a model that suggests low pollution routes the user could use for walking, biking, or driving, along with how long the route takes and the differences in pollutant concentrations between the suggested route and the fastest route.

The ultimate aim of the tool is to help people actively choose healthier routes of travel, thus improving population health in the longer term.

To learn more about STRIAD:AIR and stay up to date with its latest features, click here.

Insights | Health

Streamlining data sharing to enable healthcare innovation

Today, legions of experts are collaborating to develop AI-powered tools to revolutionise healthcare, be it through rapid diagnosis, risk prediction, or by streamlining the operation of hospitals. At the same time, the news is inundated with stories of overburdened, collapsing healthcare systems. Why the disconnect? Many of these tools generate outputs based on the analysis of massive datasets. Unfortunately, best practices for health data sharing are unclear, slowing the deployment of these new technologies.

In a recent blog, Trilateral’s Health Cluster shared our approach to safe, ethical, and legally compliant data sharing. The cluster’s recommendations include the establishment of standardised data collection methods, the development of a common legal framework, the implementation of unique patient identifiers and other privacy-protecting tools and governance. This advice is designed to address the major challenges hindering data sharing, which, in addition to legal and ethical uncertainties, include practical issues such as data siloes, lack of interoperability, and sceptical attitudes about data sharing.

Our blog draws on learnings from the PANDEM-2 project, which created a pandemic preparedness training system for EU member states. In order to build an effective collaborative tool, the project had to address data sharing challenges. As such, Trilateral led the development of a series of recommendations to facilitate data sharing and collaboration across borders.

You can read the blog here.

Insights | Climate, Energy and Environment

Understanding household energy consumption patterns to improve energy efficiency

Within the energy sector, demand response (DR) commonly refers to changes from normal electricity consumption patterns and allows experts to address situations of fluctuating energy supply that will become increasingly frequent due to the uptake of highly variable renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. It is therefore an important enabler of the energy transition.

Trilateral is working in this area by contributing to the EU funded DR-RISE project, which aims to demonstrate the benefits of DR in the residential sector and to enable consumers to make self-aware decisions about their energy use. Together with citizens, this project is co-designing a set of technical tools and services to promote engagement in DR practices and to increase energy efficiency through optimal energy management.

Trilateral is currently leading a survey to better understand energy behaviours and engagement drivers of residential households at three pilot sites in Spain, Greece, and Germany. Our survey focuses on household demographics, current energy usage, environmental values, digital skills, knowledge about DR, and electric vehicle usage. The result will be a dataset that will allow us to classify existing end-consumer typologies to co-design planned DR tools and services.

Read more about the survey here.

Insights | Crisis and Security

The TRANSCEND Toolbox – a new framework for involving citizens in security technology development

Civil society is rarely or restrictively involved during the research and development of security technologies, which can be difficult to understand and have significant ethical, societal, economic, legal, and political implications. This exclusion leads to security solutions that fail to resolve issues that actually affect society or that may even exacerbate the technologies’ harmful impacts.

The TRANSCEND project, which aims to enable the development of security technology that includes and involves members of civil society, is developing a Toolbox of Methods to facilitate citizen involvement. This is an accessible guide for policymakers, social scientists, first responders and security technology developers, which provides a structured framework for involving citizen and societal input.

Trilateral Research played an essential role in the production of this guide by leading the work on how to assess the societal impact of security technologies and providing input on how to engage members of civil society in security research. These contributions aim to enable the creation of responsible, ethical, and socially beneficial security technology, and innovation and research in this area.

The Toolbox is now in its second iteration and is currently being tested and evaluated in the following security-related areas: Disaster Resilience, Fighting Crime and Terrorism, and Cybersecurity.

Read more about the Toolbox here.

Insights | Law Enforcement and Community Safeguarding

Trilateral delivers talk on the ethical complexities of undercover policing at INTERPOL event

In March, Dr Christopher Nathan was invited to deliver a plenary session at the 40th Operational Meeting of INTERPOL’s Specialists Group on Crimes against Children (SGCAC). This event in Lyon brought together global experts to discuss how law enforcement, public authorities and technology companies can work together to protect children. The audience included active undercover agents as well as those managing and authorising them. Chris’ presentation reflected his expertise in undercover policing and reinforced the need for robust ethics throughout policing practices, to better protect the public.

Law enforcement agencies responding to child abuse must decide how to balance the protection of victims with the need to apprehend and prosecute offenders, and police must ensure that values inform their interpretations of law and regulations. When operating undercover, there are some jurisdictions, such as Romania, the US and Australia, where police can allow the spread of child abuse material in pursuit of a perceived greater good. These operations need to weigh the culpability of those involved with the harms that can be enabled and prevented, and such ethical considerations have become an important part of modern policing.

Read more about our work and commitment to safeguarding children here.

Insights | Cybersecurity

Foreign manipulation and cyber interference – Trilateral provides recommendations on how to address these threats to democracy

Last month, Trilateral Research submitted a response to the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy’s Inquiry into Defending Democracy. This inquiry addresses the threat of cyber interference with the aim of influencing the UK democratic processes, such as elections. Recognising resilience as a vulnerability in the UK, the Government promised new action to protect democracy at home and abroad. The comments and recommendations we provided are based on insights drawn from the ATHENA project, which Trilateral coordinates.

ATHENA focuses on analysing foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI), the tactics, techniques and procedures used, and the behavioural and societal effects of FIMI. Here are some recommendations from our response:

  • Political parties should be held accountable via fines for spreading misinformation to deceive voters.
  • There should be transparency around the use of generative AI content used for advertising and campaigning, communicated in easily accessible language.
  • Through its global coalition alliance with the USA and Canada, the UK should set out guidelines and regulations for identifying foreign interference.
  • Measures should be taken to educate and empower citizens to discern when they are consuming manipulated or amplified information through fake social media accounts.
  • Laws and policies combatting FIMI and its negative effects on societal values and democratic processes should be paired with advanced AI informed countermeasures, media literacy programmes and constant citizen engagement.
  • Lastly, the UK should strengthen its rules around data trusts and sharing in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

For more in depth comments and recommendations, read the consultation response here.

Insights | Ethics, Human Rights and Emerging Technologies

Trilateral Research’s Role in Shaping AR Innovation: Insights from the European Commission’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Industrial Coalition

In February, Dr Christopher Fischer attended the European Commission’s Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR) Industrial Coalition meeting in Brussels for the EU funded OPTIMAI project. The Coalition aims to inform policy making and facilitate dialogue with stakeholders of this industry. This is a key activity for OPTIMAI, as the consortium is working to develop AR glasses to improve factory workers’ real-time knowledge about production defects and to help them interact with their environment virtually. Our role in this project is to analyse the social, legal, and ethical impacts of the developed tools, and to develop mitigation measures.

A key aspect that was highlighted during the meeting is that many individuals, mostly teenagers, have a reluctance to embrace AR glasses, because they are unaware that they are already engaging with AR technology through many common apps. For instance, the use of camera filters to enhance facial features or add effects shows how integrated AR technology is in everyday experiences that many people may be unaware of.

The discussion culminated in a plan to set up a proposed Virtual Worlds Partnerships (pending formal approval by Member States in spring 2024), which aims to bring together technology experts and communities to formulate a multidisciplinary roadmap for virtual worlds within the EU.

Learn more about the event here.

If you’d like to find out more about the ground breaking research and development we’re involved in, visit our website. If you’d like to find out more about how we could support your organisation with research and development, get in touch.

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