SPRITE+ activities are centred around broad Challenge Themes (CTs), and exploring these Themes via Challenge Working Groups. Part of this exploration will include organising events, funding feasibility studies and pilot projects, and supporting secondments and internships.
Challenges relating to security, privacy, identity, and trust are relevant to a wide range of societal and industrial concerns. It will be impossible to cover all within the four year life-cycle of SPRITE+, so our intention is for the SPRITE+ community to identify, develop, and refine the most important.
A Challenge Theme is broad and future-focused, important to a wide range of stakeholders, where issues of security, privacy, identity, and trust are central and where an interdisciplinary approach is essential to fully addressing the Challenge.
At our first Expert Fellows meeting on 28-29 November 2019, a group of 75 SPRITE+ Expert Fellows from academia (29 institutions represented), business, the police and government developed 4 CTs, which will set the future direction of the Network. Most are likely to recur throughout SPRITE+’s lifetime, but we’ll review them annually. This gives us an opportunity to drop, add, merge, or alter CTs to optimise efficiency and value.
The CTs are:
- Digital Vulnerability
- Digital Technologies and Change
- Accountability and Ethics in a Digital Ecosystem
- Digital Technologies, Power and Control
SPRITE+ Challenge Working Groups
Given the potential breadth of each CT, identifying gaps and future requirements is a major undertaking. We will establish and support multi-stakeholder Challenge Working Groups (CWGs) which together will produce a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary understanding of key themes and recommendations for future research priorities. An important aspect will be to find and support research projects with common needs across several CTs.
Each CWG will have co-chairs (one technical, one non-technical), drawn from our Expert Fellows community. At least one will be from the research community (the other may be an academic or a Project Partner Fellow). Each will have a Management Team ‘mentor’ to oversee progress and support the smooth running of the CWG. Membership of each CWG will include academics (including early career researchers), and industry, government, and civil society representatives, and reflect the multidisciplinary SPRITE+ community.
CWGs will have terms of reference and objectives that will include identifying topics for annual research calls and producing authoritative position papers by the end of the CWG’s lifetime. They will use the SPRITEHub to organise their activities and to meet virtually.
CWGs will be expected to advance understanding of their CT by considering it from multiple perspectives to identify the core issues, what is already known, and what opportunities exist to advance knowledge in each area. They will be allocated a budget for activities (e.g., events, meetings, short literature reviews) to be spent over the lifetime of the project. They can also bid to fund visits by distinguished International Fellows. They will be encouraged to access the in-kind resources provided by Project Partners, for instance, to hold events, or arrange short placements with or from industry partners.
SPRITE+ will support CWG members to engage with other NetworksPlus and cognate groups, for instance through attendance at conferences and workshops. Annual Fellows’ Meetings provide the forum for discussion, debate, and review of the position papers. CWGs will also propose a small number of topics for pilot projects and feasibility studies, which will be agreed at the annual meetings and which will form the basis of the annual sandpit calls.
We expect each position paper to form the basis of a monograph, book chapters, or journal article(s), with ‘plain English’ summaries also produced for non-academic audiences. We will explore the potential for a journal special issue, and/or edited book. Together, the position papers will give a comprehensive overview of the current ‘state of the art’ and a ten-year roadmap for research. Our aim is to have a collection with the same weight as the National Academies’ Decadal Surveys.