How can we all contribute to using energy in a smarter way?

Since the liberalizations of the 1990s, energy has morphed into one of the most complex and capital-intensive sectors across Europe; it remains, if not the most vital, one of the most strategic. Striving to improve its performance can only deliver increased value to all stakeholders. What are ways in which to do so?

The theory

Through a type of automated energy management also known as Demand Response (DR), users can adapt their energy consumption in accordance to the flow in the market at that moment, while energy providers, from producers to distributors, can guarantee a greater stability to the grid as a whole. In other words, DR makes energy usage more efficient in the aggregate.

The practice

Not developed at scale yet. In fact, each user would require a connected smart meter to upload and download data; at scale, this would overburden networks’ current capacities. Would users be willing to pay a premium on the upgrade of their hardware and, once installed, does it truthfully enable a business model that is economically sustainable, socially accepted, and compliant with regulatory requirements? Furthermore, how can DR integrate into communities, increasingly common throughout Europe, that generate and resell energy semi- or completely autonomously?

The BRIGHT project aims to answer these questions through the deployment of a series of advanced technologies, which span from digital twins to smart contracts, in four pilot sites. CyberEthics Lab.’s role in the project is dual: on one hand, we work together with all partners to guarantee the compliance of data flows with GDPR and other relevant laws, regulations, and directives; on the other, we aim to assess, through our own proprietary method, the level of social acceptability of the technologies across pilot sites.

Website: www.brightproject.eu

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 957816.

Service involved

Assessment of technology impact on privacy
We help our clients and partners to achieve their business goals while addressing ethics, privacy and cybersecurity concerns in a manner that prevents conflicts, sanctions and loss of money derived by the lack of ethical and legal compliance to national and European applicable regulations. All information technologies must respect human fundamental rights and ensure the rights of people in relation to the protection of their private life, personal data and freedom. The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that replaced the Data Protection Directive in all EU member states on May 2018 introduces many new obligations for companies and a comprehensive set of rights for data subjects, including the right to an effective judicial remedy against a controller or a processor and the right to compensation. Therefore, in addition to being at the receiving end of an enforcement action, data controllers and processors may be subject to court proceedings and have to pay compensation to data subjects for their infringements of the GDPR. Our approach to help our clients to avoid this kind of issues consists of a holistic service composed by the following main components: providing a Data Protection Officer to drive the organization’s legal compliance action; mapping the data processed by the organisation to measure its impact on the ethical principles and legal framework; assessing the cybersecurity mechanisms used by the organisation technologies; conducting an impact assessment for all data processing mechanisms identifying ethical, legal and security risks; making recommendations for the implementation of the organisational and technical means to be compliant with the legal framework while ensuring data confidentiality (preserving authorized restrictions on information access and disclosure, including personal privacy and proprietary information protection), integrity (assurance that data is not modified or deleted in an unauthorized and undetected manner), availability (ensuring there’s timely and reliable access to and use of information) and accountability (supporting non‐repudiation, deterrence, fault isolation, intrusion detection and prevention, and after‐action recovery and legal action).
Social acceptance of technologies assessment
Connected, disruptive technologies permeate all aspects of our daily lives and pose challenges to the real foundation of human rights, such as the right to privacy or the freedom of speech. One could say that human values such as trust, accountability, and dignity are mutually influenced by the social acceptance of technologies. We support our clients to conceive a novel way of aligning the thus-far divergent concepts of sustainability, ethics impact, and technological innovation. By combining these three concepts, we respond to the need of a socially responsible innovation ecosystem by developing a tailored methodology for assessing users’/citizens’ social acceptance of technologies, a fundamental driver for technology market adoption. Our social acceptance framework includes six fundamental dimensions over which social acceptability (i.e. perception, motivation, trust, awareness, capacity enabling, and accountability) is measured and assessed through a two-step approach based on an online Sentiment Analysis (SA) – to create structured and actionable knowledge from the web – and the engagement of our client’s stakeholders (e.g. relevant target groups, associations of citizens, domain operators, decision makers, etc.) for the technology co-creation and communication regarding its social acceptance.
Responsible Research & Innovation
We love discovering and staying on top of new research to continuously advance our knowledge and to transform it into responsible innovation, taking into account effects and potential impacts on ethics, privacy and data protection. We help national and international partners to handle ethical, legal and cybersecurity concerns on both the research process and the project outcomes, through the legal support for the involvement of human beings in the research activity, the analysis of the national and regional legal framework applicable to the implementing technology and the recommendations for the secure and compliant development of technology. We are a multidisciplinary team that promotes the inclusion of legal and ethical concerns in the design of the technology, researching and producing new knowledge and best practices towards making a conscious and transparent adoption of technology.