REIsearch’s Media Campaign on the Next Generation Internet

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REISEARCH’s MEDIA CAMPAIGN ON THE NEXT GENERATION INTERNET

The European network of experts and media for evidence-based policy making has launched its second campaign to size what citizens expect from the Internet in 2025

REIsearch has launched its second citizen and media engagement campaign across eight European Countries. After the successful debut in 2016 on the topic of chronic diseases, which saw the participation of over 60.000 Europeans, in 2017 REIsearch’s work was focused on how Europeans would like to see the Internet evolve in the next ten years.

REIsearch has been conceived as a bridge to connects citizens, researchers and policy makers on topics linked to the scientific research and to societal challenges that Europe will face in the years to come. “Innovation is Europe’s key to remaining the ‘old continent’ only in historical sense – and to succeeding as a young, dynamic continent in the sense of our ability to solve even the most complex problem” stated former President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek. “It is not only about economic competitiveness, new technologies, research, jobs, products or the integrated market. It is about building whole innovation ecosystems in which citizens, researchers and policymakers come together for open discussion. This is what makes programmes such as the REIsearch initiative so important: they create the necessary ‘meeting points’ for innovation.

REIsearch is a non-profit European initiative co-funded by the European Commission to demonstrate how a technological tool, coupled to a broad network of leading media, research institutions, researchers, civil society organisations, and citizens, can help policy makers to make better use of all knowledge and experience – wherever it may come from – to make better decisions, based on evidence and experience, for the benefit of society as a whole.

REIsearch is promoted by Atomium – European Institute for Science, Media and Democracy, launched seven years ago at the European Parliament by the former President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and by Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, today Honorary President and President of the Institute.

REIsearch wants to successfully overcome the challenge of connecting the experience of EU citizens and the expertise of EU researchers to support policy makers in taking decisions that will affect society as a whole.

The topic selected for the second initiative launched is the Next Generation Internet, a theme of crucial importance in the European policy agenda given both its impact on EU citizens’ well-being and its opportunity for stimulating economic growth across the Union.

It is very hard to predict where we are going to be in another ten years from now. However, it is clear that, from commerce to entertainment, from co-production to data analysis, from remote working (or co-working) to e-government, e-payments and e-health, to smart homes or supply-chains, the opportunities to improve EU citizen’s life seem endless. However, many challenges remain, for instance in terms of the concentration of power (and data) in the hands of a few players, access to adequate infrastructure, the distortion of information and information distribution (fake news and confirmation bias), as well as in terms of interoperability, digital inclusion and skills, privacy and security. The aim of this second campaign was to start a reliable and authoritative debate on digital technologies (from networks to autonomous cars and blockchains and much more), bringing together researchers, media, policy-makers and citizens from all across Europe. This has allowed to support the European Commission in shaping its Next Generation Internet strategy to drive an inclusive development of the internet in the next ten years via regulation, policy action and funding.

To this end, REIsearch was coordinating eight European media organisations – including Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, La libre Belgique, Gazeta Wyborcza, Luxemburger Wort, Público and Sole24ore, – to run a citizen engagement campaign through their online editions as well as through REIsearch’s web platform. Elsevier and the European Commission’s DG Connect were facilitating the engagement of researchers. Some of the most important international and European organisations operating in the digital sector (Tallinn University of Technology, Oxford University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Twente, University of Milan, University of Barcelona, Warsaw University, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, WeMake, OpenWear, SURFnet, IETF, IAB and  Digital Catapult), together with relevant Directorates-General of the European Commission, have cooperated to write questions that, were addressed to both researchers and the public at large. The answers collected allowed policy makers across Europe to obtain useful and significant insight, expertise, and data on key issues to ensure that the internet of the future reflects the European values of fairness, respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.