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5G as a boost for the Italian development

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The concept of 5G – fifth generation – is generally used to indicate new technologies and standards for mobile communication which are subsequent to the fourth generation (4G/IMT1 – Advanced). It is capable both to increase the performance of the services currently offered and to support new services such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the so called M2M (Machine to Machine) communications and transmission and communication services in emergency and public safety situations.

One of the main features of this technology is represented by a set of system characteristics, including a better quality of the service in terms of higher speed and lower data transmission latency, with the chance to get high transmission capacities and/or a very low delay rate in the numerous applications.

Therefore, 5G will depict a framework which integrates the existing technologies and supports a heterogeneous environment of fixed and mobile networks, characterized by a multiplicity of radio interfaces and can allow the simultaneous connection of a major number of devices, a greater efficiency in the use of the radio spectrum (higher volume of data per unit of area), a lower battery waste and less probability of a service interruption.

The uphill battle towards the development and the standardization of 5G systems began in 2013, is still ongoing and is also carried on by the European Union thanks to its investments in various research projects.

To start with, it is important to remind that the telephone networks are classified in terms of generations according to the diverse functionalities and the recent technological evolutions and can be so summarised:

  • second generation (2G) networks, which were born in 1991, were different from the first generation ones for their digital nature and represented a set of standards that governed the mobile telephony, but neglected the data transmission; 
  • the third generation (3G), which was born in 2000 – but it arrived in Italy only in 2005 – and was focused on internet, video calls and mobile TV;
  • the fourth generation of mobile technology (4G/LTE) networks, that was developed in 2011 to boost the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, cloud computing and video conferencing.

Then, when will 5G arrive?

The implementation of the 5G network is going through an experimental phase in some areas of Italy and 2020 has been announced as the year of achieving a greater coverage and improved services. The engaged operators are active in various Italian cities to make the appropriate tests: Vodafone is covering Rome, Milan, Naples and Bologna; Tim is working in Turin, Genoa, San Remo, San Marino, Bari and Matera and Wind Tre is acting in Prato and L’Aquila. Months ago, Tim and Fastweb promised broadcasting 5G to everyone by 2020 and Vodafone announced on its official website a progressive coverage of the Italian territory over the next few years.

There is no doubt that the economic prospects for Italian companies, due to the implementation of the 5G network, are up-and-coming. In this regard, sector specialists gathered in Rome in July 2020 at the “Telco per l’Italia – 360° Summit”, a convention focused on the ultra-broadband, 5G and development opportunities for Italian businesses and took stock of the situation.

The Summit was also the opportunity to present the survey “5G for business: a 2030 market compass”, brainstormed by Ericsson and Arthur D.Little (a management consulting firm specialised in strategy and operations management that offers professional services to companies). According to this survey, the fifth generation of mobile networks will be the driving force for the digitization of the Italian industries and will enable an important business-potential for companies in the ICT sector and for operators.

More in detail, the survey has analysed the Italy-related data and underscored that 5G will open the way to new and significant business opportunities also in the industrial sector: in 2030, indeed, the fifth generation will foster investments of 32 billion dollars within the digital transformation process of some specific industrial sectors such as public safety, health, financial services, agriculture, media and entertainment, public transport, energy and utilities, automotive, manufacturing.

Besides, the survey has come up with an analysis on the most 5G-concerned applications and has pointed  out, among these, video services, automation services and real-time control of industrial processes, vehicles connected in support of a smarter mobility, an enhanced road safety and a continuous exchange of information with other vehicles, transport authorities and the transport infrastructure.

“5G is a platform for innovation, which can accelerate the ongoing digital transformation process, making Italy an increasingly competitive and attractive country in the global scenario. It is necessary that 5G will be considered as a critical infrastructure at the national level and that operators will benefit the right conditions to make affordable investments from the beginning”, said Riccardo Mascolo, Head of strategy and business development at Ericsson Italia.

All the benefits of 5G technology in Italy will depend more on initiatives and advances in the sector in other countries. As a matter of fact, it will be crucial that the national 5G architecture is interconnected with the global one, namely with the same technology developed by other countries, especially those ones with which Italy has the greatest political and economic relations. In this regard, the EU has recognize the potential deriving from 5G technology since several years and in its 2016 action plan pinpointed 2020 as the deadline by which all the countries of the alliance would have owned the technology. The challenge to face is to consolidate its leadership in sectors where Europe already plays a relevant role and, at the same time, foster the growth of sectors where there are considerable margins for development, by strengthening its production capacities and the competitiveness of its industries in the global market.

From our partner International Affairs

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Cybersecurity depends on the user

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Businesses and pharmaceutical companies have become prime targets for cyber criminals. For many employees switching to work from home has made them more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic the focus is shifting on digital hygiene and training. These are top issues outlined by the participants of a round table which  took place at TASS Press Center under the title “Cybersecurity: new threats and protection against them”.

At present, a large number of high-tech medical equipment is connected to the Internet. Given that medical institutions are not used to new threats, they often fall prey to cyber criminals. At times, hospitals have to pay ransom in order to restart the equipment vital for patients’ lives.  The participants in the round table cited yet more tragic cases when the ambulance equipment glitch forced the driver to head for other hospitals, which means that patients in critical condition may not make it there.

Cyber threats have been haunting not only the  medical industry. President of Check Point Software Technologies in Russia and CIS Vasily Diaghilev has singled out 3 key challenges in the new reality. Firstly, the decision-taking time limit has shortened considerably, — the market proved unprepared for this (unlike in the past, when months were given to elaborate decisions on cyber security, now a mere days are given to do so). Secondly, the criminal groups which had to go online as well, were provided with new financing to “work” in the cyber sphere. Thirdly, user vulnerability went up due to a wide variety of hacking methods.

Alexei Novikov, Director of Security at Positive Technologies, disagrees with such a view. The transition to online work has increased the number of vulnerabilities making it possible for the criminals to find new loops. Hence cyber security has come to depend on the competence of particular individuals. Earlier, information security was guaranteed “along the perimeter of corporate network”. Now, when practically everyone is working from home, family members have got access to the data too. In  addition, employees often connect  their  personal “smart devices” of the  Internet of  things to their corporate networks.

Experts who took part in the round table provided specific recommendations as to how to boost digital security. Founder and General Director of Zecurion Alexei Raevsky warned companies which are not supposed to store loads of data against doing so. Alexei Raevsky described all the data (for example, for electronic passes), which they collect on a regular basis in the conditions of a quarantine, as a “time bomb”. Vasily Diaghilev has urged individuals to refrain from using (and called on companies to impose restrictions on this practice on a mandatory basis) corporate passwords on external servers, in addition, he recommended coding corporate data, and in order to secure protection against destructive files, he advises to switch to the safe pdf-format in paperwork. “Info security should enter mass market as a taxi – a kind of digital security outsourcing”, — Lev Matveev, Chairman of the Board of “SearchInfoorm”, member of the Association of Software Manufacturers “Russoft”, says. Besides, he recommended including VPN-apps and services into public (free) WiFi-networks.

From our partner International Affairs

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Top 10 Emerging Technologies to Watch in 2020

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From virtual patients to pain-free needles, synthesizing whole-genomes, and digital medicine, these top 10 emerging technologies are transforming our post-COVID-19 lives. An international steering group of experts singled out these and other emerging technologies as the ones most likely to impact the world in the next three to five years.

For example, a Swiss group was able to synthesize the entire COVID-19 genome by reproducing the genetic sequence uploaded by Chinese scientists. They were essentially teleporting the virus into their laboratory for study without waiting for physical samples. The ability to write our genome will inevitably help doctors to cure genetic diseases.

As we now move to clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine, virtual patients, instead of living humans, could help identify successful vaccine candidates, reduce costs, and speed up research. It would also prevent the testing of imperfect vaccine candidates on living volunteers.

While the outbreak unfolded, dozens of medical apps and bots were developed, expanding the digital medicine landscape. These apps could detect depression and provided counselling. Bots answered over 200 million inquiries about COVID symptoms and treatments. COVID-19 will continue to shape our lives, and these emerging technologies could fill the gaps created by the pandemic.

The list also includes new technologies that can help combat climate change by tackling major polluting industries. These new green technologies include innovative planes, new concrete formulations and using sunlight to power refineries.

Top 10 technologies to make the list are:

Virtual Patients

Virtual patients, instead of living humans, could make vaccine trials quicker and inexpensive. This technology would significantly reduce the number of human subjects needed for experimentation.

Microneedles for Painless Injections and Tests

These tiny needles promise pain-free injections and blood testing. Microneedles do not touch nerve endings. Since the process does not need costly equipment or a lot of training, they can be used in areas that do not normally receive cutting-edge medical technologies.

Whole-Genome Synthesis

Whole-genome synthesizing will transform cell engineering. The ability to write our genome will inevitably help doctors to cure genetic diseases.

Digital Medicine

Digital medicine is a collection of apps that detect and monitor the mental and physical health of patients. These apps and bots can enhance traditional medicine and provide support to patients with limited access to healthcare.

Electric Aviation

Electric propulsion motors would eliminate direct carbon emissions. This technology could also reduce fuel costs by up to 90%, maintenance by up to 50% and noise by nearly 70%. Currently, about 170 electric airplane projects are underway.

Lower-Carbon Cement

Concrete, the most widely used human-made material, shapes much of our built world. If cement production were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter after China and the US. Researchers are working on lower-carbon approaches by changing the recipe, using different materials, and using carbon capture and storage technologies.

Sun-Powered Chemistry

This approach uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide waste into needed chemicals manufactured from fossil fuel. This approach could reduce emissions in two ways – by using unwanted gas as raw material and using sunlight as the source of energy instead of fossil fuels.

Green Hydrogen

Current methods of producing hydrogen are not environmentally efficient. Green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis, has no by-product, unlike current processes. Green hydrogen could transform industries that require high-energy fuel.

Spatial Computing

“Spatial computing” will bring together raise reality apps and sensors to facilitate human-machine and machine-machine interactions to a new level. It combines these capabilities and controls objects’ movements and interactions, allowing a person to navigate the digital and physical world.

Quantum Sensing

Quantum sensors enable autonomous vehicles that can “see” around corners, underwater navigation systems, early-warning systems for volcanic activity and earthquakes, and portable scanners that monitor a person’s brain activity during daily life.

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Can ‘Open Science’ speed up the search for a COVID-19 vaccine? 5 things you need to know

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The UN is calling for authoritative scientific information and research to be made freely available, to accelerate research into an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, help counter misinformation, and “unlock the full potential of science”.

Arguing that no-one is safe until everyone is safe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has, for several months, been urging countries and scientists to collaborate, in a bid to bring the pandemic under control. This has involved the creation, alongside governments, scientists, foundations, the private sector and other partners, of a groundbreaking platform to accelerate the development of tests, treatments and vaccines.

In October, the head of the agency, Tedros Ghebreyesus Adhanom, alongside human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of science, culture and education agency UNESCO, issued a call for “Open Science”, describing it as a “fundamental matter of human rights”, and arguing for cutting-edge technologies and discoveries to be available for those who need them most.

But what exactly does Open Science mean, and why does the UN insist on making it more widespread?

1) What is ‘Open Science’?

Open Science has been described as a growing movement aimed at making the scientific process more transparent and inclusive by making scientific knowledge, methods, data and evidence freely available and accessible for everyone.

The Open Science movement has emerged from the scientific community and has rapidly spread across nations. Investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers and citizens are joining this call.

However, the agency also warns that, in the fragmented scientific and policy environment, a global understanding of the meaning, opportunities and challenges of Open Science is still missing.

2) Why is Open Science important?

Open Science facilitates scientific collaboration and the sharing of information for the benefit of science and society, creating more and better scientific knowledge, and spreading it to the wider population.

UNESCO has described Open Science as a “true game changer”: by making information widely available, more people can benefit from scientific and technological innovation.

3) Why is it needed now?

Because, in a world that is more inter-connected than ever before, many of today’s challenges do not respect political or geographic borders, and strong international scientific collaboration is essential to overcome the problems. The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example.

We also have the tools to make it happen: with digitalization becoming ever more widespread, it is far easier than ever before to share scientific knowledge and data, which are needed to enable decisions that can lead to overcoming global challenges to be based on reliable evidence.

4) What is the impact of Open Science on the pandemic?

In this global health emergency, thanks to international collaboration, scientists have improved their understanding of the coronavirus with unprecedented speed and openness, embracing the principles of Open Science. Journals, universities, private labs, and data repositories have joined the movement, allowing open access to data and information: some 115,000 publications have released information related to the virus and the pandemic, and more than 80 per cent of them can be viewed, for free, by the general public.

Early in the pandemic, for example, Chinese scientists readily shared the genome of the virus, jumpstarting all following research into the virus, and the diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines that have since been developed.

Finally, the crisis has underlined the urgent need to bring science closer to decision making and to society as a whole. Fighting misinformation and promoting evidence-based decision-making, supported by well-informed citizens, has proven to be of vital importance in the fight against COVID 19.

5) What is the UN doing to promote Open Science?

To ensure that Open Science truly meets its potential, and benefits both developed and developing countries, UNESCO is taking the lead in building a global consensus on values and principles for Open Science that are relevant for every scientists and every person independently of their place of origin, gender, age or economic and social background.

The future UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science is expected to be the international instrument to set the right and just standards for Open Science globally, which fulfil the human right to science and leave no one behind.  

In a statement released on World Science Day for Peace and Development, celebrated on 10 November, Ms. Azoulay said that widening the scope of Open Science will help science to “unlock its full potential”, making it more effective and diverse by “enabling anyone to contribute, but also to bring its objectives in line with the needs of society, by developing scientific literacy in an informed citizenry who take responsibility and are involved in collective decision-making”.

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