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Societal response to potential blackout of electronic systems.

003Societal response to potential blackout of electro...

Blue sky Policy Alert 003

FP7 themes health agro ict nano energy environment transport ssh space security
ERA goals mobility infrastucture rtd institutions knowledge sharing  joint programming  cooperation 
Author(s)Rafael Popper, Thordis Sveinsdottir, Yanuar Nugroho
Contributor(s)Joe Ravetz, Martin Fatun, Peter Ellwood, Fiona Lickorish, John Reynolds, John Turnpenny
ManifestationGradual development
Potential impacts in Europe
people's lives
legislation & regulation
economy & business
defence & security
government & politics
environment & ecosystems
science & technology
Importance for EUMajor
Strategic attentionby 2030 Major  by 2050 Critical
Type of impactVery negative
Inspired byBrainstorming session and group discussions in the iKNOW Workshop in Manchester (February 2010)
Related to
Keywords, , , ,

Societal response to potential blackout of electronic systems.

Research topic

Contemporary society relies on a communication network, which is based on one electronic standard system. Further standardisation such as TCP/IP and 3G which on one hand ease communication processes on the other hand leads to potential security vulnerability. Increasing reliance on computer systems/networks and increase of computer based crime furthermore increases the vulnerability of societal infrastructures, should a natural disaster or acts of terrorism disable communication and energy systems.



Research could focus on examining the nature of societal reliance on standardised systems. Research could focus on developing backup systems that could be used in the event of a current system breakdown. Research could identify areas of vulnerability (e.g. security measures at major power plants, likelihood of terrorist attacks) Research could furthermore use foresight methodologies to examine how society could be prepared for alternative ways of living, should a system breakdown occur.


Expected impact

Research should aim to a) inform the development of an alternative energy and communication system; b) devise strategies for crisis response across Europe; c) inform relevant policy, legislation and regulation across EU; d) inform business enterprise and innovation in this field; e) revise existing policies promoting standardisation; f) explore alternative ways of achieving systems compatibility and interconnectedness.


Importance for Europe

Threat to energy safety is an important grand challenge for Europe and grand scale disruption to the energy system could have unforeseen consequences for all levels of society. Finding ways of securing energy flow throughout Europe is vital and innovation in this field is important. Joint regulation is also necessary and EU needs to take initiative to formulate a response in the event of threats to food security. EU policy could then provide blueprint for any policy response from the governments of member states.


Disclaimer: The wild card presented in this brief may not happen at all or in the near future. iKNOW is a new EU funded research project aimed to explore surprising events (wild cards) and emerging issues (weak signals) potentially shaping or shaking the future of Europe and the world.