Democracy & Humanitarian Assistance

The digitalization of services and use of digital information sources is not only the future for the private sector, but also for governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Data analytics will be a key instrument for all these stakeholders. Private companies can take advantage of innovative technology solutions, and improve the quality of their services with regard to citizens, volunteers, and beneficiaries. Technologies like mobile, cloud, social platforms or data analytics boost efficiency, enable better resource management, and permit new improved services and operations that were not possible before.

These advances, however, require collecting and processing large amounts of data that have to be transmitted through the network and analyzed for making business decisions. In addition, many untrusted actors may be involved in this process. This results in security and privacy risks that need to be addressed to ensure that technological solutions do not become a threat to national security, nor a surveillance infrastructure, but instead support novel applications that improve the interactions in untrusted environments while preserving the democratic values that underlie our society.

We will focus on the privacy and security challenges particular to public services and NGOs environments. For example, volunteers working in remote regions or inhabitants of rural areas may not have access to the computing resources and network bandwidth expected by modern privacy technologies. This requires innovative privacy-preserving technologies that will provide a high degree of security even in resource-restricted and untrusted environments. Governance strongly depends on the availability of reliable information for governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as on platforms for information exchange and political discourse for citizens. Manipulation of information (e.g., as recently observed with fake news and propaganda in news and social media) constitutes thus a major risk for those organizations and society in general. Technological solutions can contribute to reduce this risk.