ENISA (the European Network and Information Security Agency) has just launched a report on the interoperability of electronic ID management systems. The EU’s vision is that all European governments, citizens and businesses should be able to interact electronically. By the end of 2009 the Services Directive requires member states to have put in place single points of electronic contact allowing service providers to offer their services and complete formalities online.
In the medium term, eID will be one of the key drivers of the future Internet — contributing towards, as Microsoft Chief Identity Architect Kim Cameron puts it, a new identity and authorisation layer for the network.
Last week the PARADISO project kindly asked me to speak at their conference ICT for a global sustainable future. Other speakers on my panel “Future directions for EU ICT research” included Simon Hampton (Google), Martin Curley (Intel) and Elmar Husmann (IBM).
My key points were:
- ICT research can best support a sustainable future by meeting the needs of individuals, organisations and societies and understanding how technology will shape the behaviour of each of these entities. Projects should therefore be multidisciplinary, including psychologists, sociologists, economists and political scientists as well as computer scientists and electronic engineers.
- We are already seeing the development of a range of technology to improve sustainability. As well as the obvious and important work on reducing energy and resource consumption, other promising directions include the provision of better information on the environmental impact of products and organisations (for example, Fair Tracing and AMEE). It is important to understand how these innovations will affect individual behaviour in day-to-day use — teleconferencing, for example, has been found in many circumstances to increase travel. Technology has to be accompanied by policy measures such as the EU’s emissions trading scheme if it is to incentivise behavioural change.
- We can make the use of the Internet and related technology more sustainable through user-centered design and by reducing barriers to individuals’ trust in the network — principally by addressing concerns over privacy and security. PRIME and PrimeLife are good examples of EU research that helps users manage their personal data and security. The European Commission can encourage such developments by making sustainability and usability more central evaluation criteria; and by building on existing research into the ethical aspects of system design (such as PRISE and SWAMI).
Welcome to the Towards a Future Internet blog! Over the next 20 months we are conducting a study funded by the European Commission on what a Future Internet could and should look like. You can find out more about the project and the team through this site. Please check back soon (or add our RSS feed to your newsreader) — we will be adding a lot of content over the next few months.