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Global Challenges

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Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

The term ICT outlines the importance of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications. It includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, mobile phones, computers and network hardware, and software and satellite systems, to name a few. There is also various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning.

Utilising ICT as a catalyst for social and economic progress is an opportunity long held in high regard by the international development community. Impacting society at the micro and macro levels, ICT can equip us to help address our greatest social, economic and environmental challenges.

The ICT sector represents almost 5% of European economy, and generates 25% of total business expenditure in Research and Development (R&D), while investments in ICT account for 50% of all European productivity growth. EU investments in ICTs are due to increase by about 25% under Horizon 2020 compared to FP7. This EU investment will support the whole chain from basic research to innovation that can deliver new business breakthroughs, often on the basis of emerging technologies.

Information and Communication Technologies underpin innovation and competitiveness across private and public sectors and enable scientific progress in all disciplines. Thus in H2020, ICT-related topics can be found in all priorities, from ‘Excellence Science’ to ‘Industrial Leadership’, to ‘Societal Challenges’.

The Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICT-PSP) aims at stimulating a wider uptake of innovative ICT based services and the exploitation of digital content across Europe by citizens, governments and businesses, in particular SMEs.

ICT brings unique responses to society’s challenges such as the growing needs for sustainable healthcare and ageing well, for better security and privacy, for a lower carbon economy and for intelligent transport. EU investment will support the ICT research and innovation that can best deliver new business breakthroughs, often on the basis of emerging technologies. In particular, ICT in Horizon 2020 will support the development of ICT in Science, ICT in industrial leadership and ICT in societal challenges.

A key structural change overtaking computing is the move towards a low-power computing continuum spanning embedded systems, mobile devices, desktops, data centres, etc. The demand for low-power multi/many-core computing systems is intensifying across all market segments.

In a data-driven world, a key challenge for ICT innovation today is information security. Capitalising on Europe’s industrial and technology strengths in low power computing and embedded and cyber-physical systems, the objective is to strengthen European competitiveness in the key parts of the emerging computing value chain. With the wider diffusion of embedded ICT and cyber-physical systems, security becomes increasingly important to be addressed across all levels starting from secure and trusted zones supported on hardware and software level.

At the EU policy level, ongoing discussion impacting information security includes the Data Protection Regulation and Directive, of which the European Parliament adopted a draft in 2014.