Digital Society

CURRENT Research PROJECTS in the digital society track

21st Century Digital Skills in the creative Industry

The main goal of the Human Capital Call is to make the Dutch creative sector an international leader by strengthening human capital among the Dutch workforce. The goal of this project is to focus on 21st century digital skills, of which the importance is fundamental to the wider human capital challenge. Over the last few decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) have developed as a central contributor to economic growth. However, without the required eskills, the benefits that ICT offer will not be fully realized. In order to create and maintain competitive advantage around these skills across its human resources, the creative sector should start with identifying and quantifying current and expected needs. Often, labor markets and educational curricula compete with one another in defining the requirements for individual workers and organizations. There is no precise operational framework available in the creative sector that can be used to provide more detailed information about actual levels of eskills among workers, or to define policy recommendations to achieve the ambitions set out by the Human Capital Agenda. As a result, it is unclear what eskills are, why workers in the creative sector would need them, how eskills will evolve, or whether eskills can be built or developed. Therefore, we do not yet know how the ambitions of the Human Capital Call can be achieved. Addressing these critical shortcomings requires a genuine consortium with partners among universities and businesses. Objectives of this 5-year project are creating an operational 21st century skills framework, testing the level of these skills among workers in the creative sector, to determine the role of individual labor conditions and organizational functions and tasks on the level of eskills, and to define and test policy recommendations on how organizations can improve 21st century skill levels of their workers.

Sponsors: NWO/NRO
Contact: Alexander van Deursen 

Any Thing for Anyone? Digital inequality and the Internet-of-Things

To ensure more equal access to the Internet-of-Things, this 6 year research project aims to investigate inequalities in IoT skills among the general user population from an individual and social-contextual perspective. First, two large-scale performance tests are conducted in which subjects (sampled for gender, age and education) are asked to complete assignments. One tests concern the use of health wearables, the other a smart home lab environment. Second, three data-collection methods are employed to conduct a detailed investigation of how IoT skills are applied and learned in the home context: IoT log data, a diary study that captures data from participants as they live through certain experiences, and a series of semi-structured interviews to understand both how the participants resolved their IoT skill issues and the roles played by other members of the home environment in resolving those issues. The underlying idea of the project is that technologies offer more capital-enhancing opportunities for those of higher socioeconomic status, and that when technologies become more complex, comparative advantages further increase. Many of the possibilities enabled by IoT that are emphasized in popular media seem techno-utopian promises that stress the autonomous power of the technology. So far, behavioral factors that are necessary for understanding the impact of the IoT have been ignored.

Sponsors: NWO (VIDI Scheme)
Contact: Alexander van Deursen

Project Name: EUSL-Energy (Europe Sri Lanka Capacity Building in Energy Circular Economy)

The EUSL-Energy project is a 4-year research project that aims to develop an excellent international challenge master within the energy transition sector. We see the project as a ‘digital transformation in higher education’ pilot. The role of the research group Communication Science in EUSL-Energy is twofold. First, the focus is on the development and implementation of a quality and certification approaches (Q&C-approaches) based on the Learning as a Service business model. The Q&C-approaches will be designed as a ‘design for quality’ community-driven process with joint responsibility for the quality of the certificates and with a common need for continuous development and improvement as a joint driver. Our Design for Quality platform will be developed in which design, quality, and learning analytics will be merged and visualized to monitor and steer continuous learning program development. The second role is the responsibility is the program dedicated to core professional competences, for example 21ct, innovation and entrepreneurship competences.

Sponsors: Erasmus+
Contact: Sjoerd de Vries and Wouter Vollenbroek

From Digital Skills to Tangible Outcomes

In the UK, Netherlands and Europe where this project originated policies have been developed to improve individuals' Internet access and skills to ensure they can fully participate in all aspects of the information society. Other regions show similar initiatives aimed at tackling inequalities in people’s abilities to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in ways that help achieve tangible, high-quality outcomes in everyday life. At the same time, a great deal of academic work has been conducted which has led to detailed knowledge about who is and who is not digitally included. As the Internet becomes an increasingly embedded part of everyday life for many people, research on digital inclusion has been criticized. There are concerns about the lack of strong theoretical developments within the field and the limitations of the survey measures typically used in research and evaluations of initiatives. In this project, we aim to address these criticisms through developing theoretically informed survey measures of people's digital skills, engagement with the Internet, and the tangible outcomes this Internet use has in their lives.

In parallel to the development of #DiSTOsurvey measures, collaborations with government, third sector and academic institutions have been put into place using the DiSTO framework as a guide to visualise the links between digital and social exclusion in the #DiSTOmap projects. This combination of large scale national survey research and mapping of inequalities at the smaller local level makes cross-national, community and individual level comparisons possible, allowing us to answer questions about the processes that drive socio-digital inequalities at the micro, meso and macro level. This project develops and tests questionnaires on digital skills, Internet uses, and outcomes of Internet use that can be used by the wider academic community in full or in short item versions. Originally developed and tested in the UK and the Netherlands, these measures are now used internationally, in partnerships with Australia, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and the US.

Sponsor: Oxford University, London School of Economics and Political Science
Contact: Alexander van Deursen

EIT Digital Cybersecurity Blended Master program

This project aims to develop a state-of the-art blended (lifelong) master in Cybersecurity. EIT Digital is one of the Knowledge Innovation Communities founded by the European Union and initiated as a European community for improving the European positioning with regard to innovation and entrepreneurship within the digital sector. EIT Digital aims at global impact through European innovation fuelled by entrepreneurial talent and digital technology. The role of the research group Communication Science (CS) in EIT Digital focuses on digital transformations in higher education. The Cybersecurity program is part of the blended programs of the EIT Digital Academy. A joint development program in which we strongly collaborate with national and international partners to create an innovative international blended master program for regular master students and certified cybersecurity professionals.

: EIT Digital
Contact: Sjoerd de Vries & Wouter Vollenbroek

Security Requirements for Serious apps

The SERIOUS project aims to research the security and privacy requirements of serious apps. A serious application is used for serious business, such as tele-treatment or local government issues. In this respect, the processed data must only be shared with the authorized parties. However, recent research has shown that end-users encounter difficulties to manage their security and privacy risks and are often unable to make well-considered decisions about what to share with whom. Most permission systems are predominantly system-oriented and difficult to understand for the end-users.  The aim of this project is to support and empower end-users in managing security and privacy risks of serious apps by means of a software. Currently, several frameworks exist that evaluate and solve security and privacy risks of (malicious) applications. However, these frameworks only solve a limited amount of risks and most do not aid the user in making security and privacy decisions. The framework that we will develop will emerge from consumers’ needs and preferences and has to match with obligations, law and legislation from the government. Furthermore, the framework has to be developed under consideration of ethical consequences of the technology and the design, while communicating threats to security and privacy to the end-user.

The project is a collaboration between the EWI faculty, Services, Cyber Security and Safety group and the BMS faculty, CS group. Susanne is working for both departments.

Sponsors: NWO, TNO, Centric and WODC
Contact: Susanne Barth