Success of the second PSCE Webinar on Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era

The webinar Crisis Management, Surveillance, and Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era succesfuly took place on 23 June 2020. The Webinar offered an overview of the latest academic research in the domain of surveillance and digital ethics, and its implications in the current COVID-19 context. The webinar included contributions from the Free University of Amsterdam, Lancaster University, The Imperial College London and ETH Zurich. A total of 150 participants from various backgrounds registered to the Webinar.

The presentations as well as the recording of the webinar are available on this page.

 

Managing COVID 19: What were the challenges encountered by European PPDR organisations? (PSCE Webinar)

There is no doubt that the spread of COVID-19 constituted a great challenge for PPDR organisations and first responders across Europe. From public alerting  and emergency call centers (112) to logistics and ground operations, this unprecedented crisis required PPDR organisations to quickly adapt in order to safeguard the lives of European citizens. This PSCE Webinar will offer three perspectives (Belgium, Spain and Germany) regarding the challenges encountered by European PPDR organisations in managing the pandemic. The Webinar will take place on 30 June at 11am CEST (Duration 1 hour)

11.00 Introduction by PSCE (Marie-Christine Bonnamour)

11.05 How Public Warning Systems can support crisis communication: The use case of BE-Alert in the COVID-19 communication (Koen De Budt,  Crisis Center Belgium)

11.20 How to manage information overload in emergency centres: the perspective of Madrid 112 (Fernando Conde, 112 Madrid Center)

11.35 Logistics and other Challenges – Experiences made by THW during the COVID-19 Situation (Theo Lingens, THW Germany)

11.50 Q&A

The WEBINAR is free of charge and will take place on WEBEX. You will be provided with the link once you register. If you encounter issues registering via googleforms, you may register by contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

REGISTER HERE

Interoperability solution for mobile tracing and warning apps agreed by Member States

Member States, with the support of the European Commission, have agreed on a set of technical specifications to ensure a safe exchange of information between national contact tracing apps based on a decentralised architecture. This concerns the vast majority of tracing apps that were already – or are about to be – launched in the EU. Once the technical solution is deployed, such national apps will work seamlessly when users travel to another EU country which also follows the decentralised approach. This means an important additional step towards interoperability of mobile apps for tracing coronavirus infections, as Member States begin to lift travel restrictions across borders in time for summer vacation.

Most Member States have decided to launch mobile apps to complement manual contact tracing of the spread of coronavirus. The great majority of national approved apps are based on a decentralised architecture, which means that the arbitrary identifiers of users that were detected for a certain duration in proximity remain on the phone itself, and will be checked by the phone against the identifiers of users reported to be infected. The technical specification for interoperability will allow these checks to be done also for users travelling from other Member States, without the need to download several national apps.

The proximity information shared between apps will be exchanged in an encrypted way that prevents the identification of an individual person, in line with the strict EU guidelines on data protection for apps; no geolocation data will be used. To support further streamlining of the system, the Commission will set up a gateway service,an interface to efficiently receive and pass on relevant information from national contact tracing apps and servers. This will minimise the amount of data exchanged and thus reduce users' data consumption.

The technical specifications agreed today build on the Interoperability guidelines agreed in May, setting the general principles.

Next steps

Member States will already be able to update apps to permit information exchange between national, decentralised apps as soon as they are technically ready. The Commission continues to support the work of Member States on extending interoperability also to centralised tracing apps.

On 7 May 2020, PSCE held a webinar entitled“Phasing out of the confinement measures – How can IT tools help make the transition?”, in which topics related to mobile applications and social tracing were discussed. If you did not have the opportunity of watching it live, you can do it through this link.

Upcoming PSCE Webinar: Crisis Management, Surveillance, and Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era

After the great success of our first webinar, PSCE is pleased to announce the second webinar “Crisis Management, Surveillance and Digital Ethics in the COVID-19 Era! This virtual event, co-organised with the Lancaster University, will occur on June 23th at 11h CEST (Brussels time) and it will feature speakers from the Lancaster University, Free University of Amsterdam, Imperial College of London, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

COVID-19 has accelerated implementation of digital technologies to support containment of the pandemic. It is in the public interest to allow emergency exceptions for data collection and processing. However, this should not be at the cost of individual freedoms and civil liberties that underpin the functioning of democracy. And, to become effective, many of the technologies require public trust and the trust of emergency practitioners. This webinar explores how to support innovation that is ambitious and sensitive with a view to digital ethics.

Furthermore, this webinar builds up on a call for contributions published on the Journal of Crisis and Contingency Management, which is open until the 3rd of July. As such, we encourage all interested parties to submit their thoughts and ideas while contributing to a pertinent and timely discussion. You can read the call for contributions here.

Agenda

11.00: Welcome by PSCE

11.05: Context and Motivation — Kees BOERSMA, Free University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

11.15State of the Art — Monika BUSCHER, Lancaster University, UK

11.25: How to safeguard autonomy and why it matters — Rafael A. CALVO, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK

11.45Ethically conscious use of data and apps for pandemic response — Marcello IENCA and James SCHEIBNER, Health Ethics and Policy Lab, Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zürich

Q&A (10 min)  

The WEBINAR is free of charge and will take place on WEBEX. You will be provided with the link once you register.

REGISTER HERE

Please note that If you encounter issues registering via googleforms, you may register by contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RescEU’s budget to be reinforced with 2 billion euros over 2021-2027

The Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarcic announced on June 2 that the budget of rescEU - part of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism - will be significantly reinforced with €2 billion over 2021-2027 to create reserves of strategic equipment to cover health emergencies, forest fire outbreaks, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents or other major emergencies. As such the total budget for the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism will top €3,1 billion

“When the coronavirus hit Europe, there was a lack of many kinds of medical equipment across Member States. Yet the EU did not have the power or the means to offer equipment; we could only encourage cooperation. Citizens expect the EU to act during a crisis. We all need to be better prepared and learn the lessons. rescEU will be massively strengthened to leave no EU country behind during a crisis,” said Lenarcic.

Under the Commission’s proposal:

  • The EU will create a reserve of crisis response capacities (including medical equipment, medical evacuation planes, field hospitals, firefighting planes and helicopters) at EU level that can be mobilised quickly for use in all Member States.
  • The EU will, for the first time, be able to directly procure equipment, ensuring a safety net of emergency response assets that can support Member States in overwhelming crisis situations. 
  • The EU will fully finance the development and operational costs of rescEU capabilities.
  • The Commission has also proposed a substantial boost of its global humanitarian budget by €5 billion, allocating in total €14,8 billion to better respond to growing needs worldwide in the next EU long-term budget 2021-2027.