On-going projects and considerations

SEEDA-CECNSM 2023

 

Enhancing Human Factors in Cybersecurity Training and Ensuring AI Trustworthiness

Dr Kitty Kioskli, CEO & Cofounder at trustilio BV & Research Fellow at the University of Essex

In the last two decades, extensive research has been conducted to uncover the root causes of security breaches and the significant role of human factors in this context. This research has illuminated the fact that security measures cannot be solely dictated by policies and enforced through mechanisms and sanctions, treating humans as mere components. Instead, human factors must be integrated into the realm of cybersecurity knowledge and included in cybersecurity training. At both national and international levels, substantial efforts are underway to enhance human factors in cybersecurity training and ensure the trustworthiness of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Two prominent projects dedicated to these objectives are CyberSecPro and THEMIS 5.0. CyberSecPro aims to bridge the gap between academic degrees, practical skills required in today’s digitalized world, and the marketable cybersecurity expertise. By fostering best practices in cybersecurity training, it strives to empower Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) to equip the workforce with the capabilities needed to tackle digital challenges. These enhanced HEIs will foster innovation, research, and collaboration between industry, academia, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ultimate goal of CyberSecPro is to empower the NextGen Europe. On the other hand, THEMIS 5.0 brings together researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplines to ensure the trustworthiness of AI-driven hybrid decision support systems. It emphasizes the alignment of AI with human users’ needs and moral values, as well as compliance with socio-technical environment standards. THEMIS 5.0 employs an innovative AI-driven risk assessment approach to identify trustworthiness vulnerabilities, complying with the Trustworthy AI Act and relevant standards. Moreover, it focuses on the human and socio-technical system perspectives in risk management-based trustworthiness evaluations. A novel AI-driven conversational agent plays a vital role in engaging humans in intelligent dialogues, facilitating continuous trustworthiness improvement cycles. THEMIS 5.0 adopts a European human-centric approach for the design, development, deployment, and operation of its ecosystem, with strong co-creation processes at its core. The project evaluates its human-centric ecosystem through three well-defined use cases, each addressing specific high-priority and critical applications in various industrial sectors. THEMIS 5.0 accelerates the transition toward more trustworthy AI-enabled services by empowering users to evaluate AI solutions, identify biases, embed their values and norms, and provide feedback for AI system enhancement.

 

Par-ICT CENG: Enhancing ICT research infrastructure in Central Greece to enable processing of Big data from sensor stream, multimedia content, and complex mathematical modeling and simulations

Athanasios Kakarountas, Associate Professor, Dpt. of Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics, University of Thessaly

ParICT_CENG project is the result of the Central Greece regional policy to establish competitive research infrastructures in favor of regional research, increasing the number of researchers in the Region of Central Greece, enhancing the impact of research in the Region and leveraging funding in projects requiring test-before-invest for the local industry. The project has managed to attract 40 researchers, exploiting the resources offered by the established infrastructures, resulting in numerous publications in high-impact international journals and conferences, favoring the establishment of new research groups, and achieving the support of researchers to access high-end computational nodes.

 

ERMIS – Smart digital applications and tools for the effective promotion and highlighting of the biodiversity of the Ionian Islands”, results and challenges

George Voutos, MSC, PhD, Ionian University

The Ionian University is implementing an R&D project to improve the protection, management, and utilization of biodiversity ecosystems in the Ionian Islands. The project aims to promote the natural landscape, sustainable development, and income growth of the island’s population. The project involves the development of a digital platform, crowd-sourcing technologies, and methods for integrating natural objects into tourist exploitation and flow. The project will also produce an improved digital product and services to promote alternative tourism in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this process it will use new media to highlight the natural wealth of the islands, organize workshops, and implement an integrated communication strategy to strengthen participation in biodiversity management.

MELTOPENLAB Project

Panos Filippopoulos, University of Peloponnese, Greece

The MELTOPENLAB project addresses in a holistic manner, a number of issues relating to digital documentation of cultural heritage including ontologies for both objects and methods of preservation, provision of personalized visitor experience and tools for quantifying and analyzing visitor behavior evaluating exhibits, by implementing a cost-effective system in the premises of a multi-space modern museum of Greek Clulture (MNEP).”

VOXreality: Voice driven interaction in XR spaces

Olga Chatzifoti, Spyros Borotis (Maggioli)

VOXreality is an ambitious project whose goal is to facilitate and exploit the convergence of two important technologies, natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision (CV). Both technologies are experiencing a huge performance increase due to the emergence of data-driven methods, specifically machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). On the one hand, CV/ML are driving the extended reality (XR) revolution beyond what was possible up to now, and, on the other, speech-based interfaces and text-based content understanding are revolutionising human-machine and human-human interaction. VOXreality pursues the integration of language- and vision-based AI models with either unidirectional or bidirectional exchanges between the two modalities. Vision systems drive both AR and VR, while language understanding adds a natural way for humans to interact with the back-ends of XR systems or create multimodal XR experiences combining vision and sound. The results of the project will be twofold: 1) a set of pretrained next-generation XR models combining, in various levels and ways, language and vision AI and enabling richer, more natural immersive experiences that are expected to boost XR adoption, and 2) a set of applications using these models to demonstrate innovations in various sectors. The above technologies will be validated through three use cases: 1) Personal Assistants that are an emerging type of digital technology that seeks to support humans in their daily tasks, with their core functionalities related to human-to-machine interaction; 2) Virtual Conferences that are completely hosted and run online, typically using a virtual conferencing platform that sets up a shared virtual environment, allowing their attendees to view or participate from anywhere in the world; 3) Theaters where VOX will combine language translation, audiovisual user associations and AR VFX triggered by predetermined speech.

AI4Gov: Trusted AI for Transparent Public Governance fostering Democratic Values

Sotiris Athanasopoulos, Spyros Borotis (Maggioli)

AI4Gov is a joint effort of policy makers, public institutions / organizations, legal, Social Science and Humanities and Big Data/AI experts to unveil the potentials of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data technologies for developing evidence-based innovations, policies, and policy recommendations to harness the public sphere, political power, and economic power for democratic purposes. The project will also uphold fundamental rights and values standards of individuals when using AI and Big Data technologies. Hence, the project aims to contribute to the promising research landscape that seeks to address ethical, trust, discrimination, and bias issues by providing an in-depth analysis and solutions addressing the challenges that various stakeholders in modern democracies are faced with when attempts are made to mitigate the negative implications of Big Data and AI. In this direction, the project will introduce solutions and frameworks towards a two-fold sense, to facilitate policymakers on the development of automated, educated and evidence-based decisions and to increase the trust of citizens in the democratic processes and institutions. Moreover, the project will leverage the capabilities of state-of-the-art tools for providing un-bias, discrimination-free, fair, and trusted AI. These tools will be validated in terms of their ability to provide technical and/or organisational measures, causal models for bias and discrimination, and standardized methodologies for achieving fairness in AI.

REWIRE – Cybersecurity Skills Alliance – a New Vision for Europe

Pinelopi Kyranoudi, PhDc, Technical University of Crete

The Cybersecurity Skills Alliance – New Vision for Europe – REWIRE project is the Alliance formed from the four winning pilot projects of the 2018 Horizon 2020 cybersecurity call “establishing and operating a pilot for a European Cybersecurity Competence Network and developing a common European Cybersecurity Research & Innovation Roadmap”: CONCORDIA, ECHO, SPARTA and CyberSec4Europe. Thus, the REWIRE Alliance represents more than 160 partners of the four pilot projects, including big companies, SMEs, universities and cybersecurity research institutes, from 26 EU Member States. REWIRE gathers 12 education and training providers, 11 partners representing industry and certification, and two EU umbrella organizations for VET from 12 EU countries to work together for developing a new sectoral strategic approach to cooperate on cybersecurity skills, and support a better matching between skill needs of the market and skills provided by the relevant education and training organizations.
This project aims to provide concrete recommendations and solutions that would lead to the reduction of skill gaps between industry requirements and sectoral training provision and contribute to support growth, innovation and competitiveness in the field of Cybersecurity. REWIRE builds a Blueprint for the Cybersecurity industry and a concrete European Cybersecurity Skills Strategy. This strategy will bring together lessons learned from other initiatives (i.e. CONCORDIA, SPARTA, ECHO, CyberSec4Europe) and will be outlined from a holistic approach, identifying political, economical, social, technological, legal and other factors which may be affecting sector skills and training offer.

CyberSecPro – a Collaborative, Multi-modal and Agile Professional Cybersecurity Training Program for A Skilled Workforce In the European Digital Single Market and Industries

Pinelopi Kyranoudi, PhDc, Technical University of Crete

EU Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have more than 128 cybersecurity academic programs (undergraduate and graduate) as identified by ENISA (CyberHEAD), JRC (ATLAS) and a variety of reports by the 4 pilot projects (Sparta, CyberSec4Europe, ECHO, CONCORDIA). These academic programs, with their static curricula, do not provide the dynamic capabilities and emerging skills needed in the market. The digital transformation imposes the HEIs to enhance their role in preparing the new generation workforce and to upskill the existing one in meeting the challenging and ever-growing cybersecurity challenges (e.g., massive AI attacks).
Fourteen (14) HEIs and thirteen (13) security companies from sixteen (16) EU countries propose the agile CyberSecPro professional cybersecurity practical and hands-on training program that will complement, support, and advance the existing academic programs by linking innovation, research, industry, academia and SME support. CyberSecPro aims to bridge the gap between degrees, working-life and marketable cybersecurity skill sets necessary in the digitalization efforts and become the best practice for all cybersecurity training programs.

CHAISE: Empowering Europe with Blockchain Skills

Dimitrios Kotsifakos, University of Piraeus and KEK Aegaleo, Greece

Kiriakos Dimitrios, DIEK Aegaleo, Greece

The core mission of the “A Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Blockchain Skills Development (CHAISE)” project is to develop a strategic approach to blockchain skills development for Europe as well as to deliver future-proof training solutions, to tackle blockchain skill shortages and to respond to the current and future skill needs of the European Blockchain workforce (https://chaise-blockchainskills.eu). Nowadays blockchain is at the core of the EU strategy to advance digital transformation, benefitting society and businesses and stimulating sustainable growth [1]. The Sector Skills Alliance ‘CHAISE’ has released its European Blockchain Skills Strategy & Action Plan. This strategy is a key achievement of the CHAISE project, which has received funding under the Erasmus+ Program to deliver Blockchain Skills for Europe and uphold the EU at the forefront of blockchain innovation.
Despite the growing demand for blockchain skills, Europe faces a shortage of qualified professionals in the field. The fast-paced nature of blockchain technology makes it challenging for traditional educational institutions to provide timely and relevant training. Moreover, the multidisciplinary nature of blockchain requires a combination of technical, business, legal, and regulatory knowledge, making it difficult to find individuals with a comprehensive skill set [9]. To bridge this skills gap and meet the increasing demand for blockchain skills, initiatives like the CHAISE program have been introduced.
While the primary focus of the CHAISE program is blockchain skills, the skills acquired can have ripple effects across various industries and applications. Expanding the program’s offerings to include additional courses and specializations in related fields would further enhance its versatility and relevance to a broader range of career paths and industries. These programs aim to develop specialized vocational education and training programs that provide learners with the necessary skills to excel in the blockchain sector. By addressing both technical and non-technical skill requirements, these programs equip individuals with a holistic understanding of blockchain technology and its applications, enabling them to contribute effectively to the industry. In recent years, the field of blockchain education has seen growing interest and research. The aspects of blockchain education, curriculum design, and industry, demand for blockchain skills. However, a notable gap exists in the literature regarding the integration of mobile learning in blockchain education further increasing the attractiveness of the sector.

Industrial PhD in Computer and Telecommunications Sciences

Prof. Chrysostomos Stylios, Scientific Coordinator, Department of Informatics & Telecommunications, University of Ioannina

The main objective of the project is the creation and establishment of an inter-institutional Doctoral Studies Program in collaboration with European educational institutions and Research Institutes, titled “Industrial PhD in Computer and Telecommunications Sciences”. The Industrial PhD aims to introduce modern innovative research and education practices at the University of Ioannina and to contribute to the strengthening of research cooperation with European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In addition, the program seeks to attract PhD candidates and SME executives, who will undertake to implement their doctoral thesis at the participating educational institutions in at least two (2) countries and with a research topic that will concern issues and problems of industry & SMEs. The preparation of the doctoral thesis will be carried out under the co-supervision of faculty members of the collaborating academic institutions and researchers of the Research Centers. In addition, part of the research activity of the PhD candidates will be carried out in the context of the cooperation with the SME participating in the training and research plan of the PhD candidate and will concern the needs of the company. As a result, the research extroversion of the Department of Informatics & Telecommunications of the University of Ioannina and the collaboration with other Universities abroad will be strengthened, joint research groups from different European Universities will be created and, in addition, there will be direct research collaboration with innovative European SMEs, strengthening the relationship between academia and the labor market.