INESC TEC strengthens position in national public policies

The Institute is establishing an office dedicated to this topic, towards reinforcing the approach the institution has been pursuing in terms of impact on public policies.

The Public Policy Office (GPP) of INESC TEC will focus on advancing the involvement of the scientific community with the public sector, promoting the effective use of scientific evidence by public bodies and policymakers. “In this sense, the GPP will provide services and tools that aim to increase the impact of the INESC TEC community on public policies, based on customised relationship strategies co-implemented with individual researchers, research groups, and partner organisations”, explained Carolina Pedroso, member of the GPP.

The Office will promote the identification and dissemination of the current contributions of INESC TEC within the public policies domain, while improving the establishment of relationships and the testing of new approaches to the co-production of science and public policies. More specifically, the Office will support the production of policy briefs and position papers, and the organisation of workshops and events, among other initiatives to maximise the impact of research on evidence-based policies.

Although the establishment of this Office is only taking place now, the fact is that INESC TEC’s impact on public policies is not recent. Two reports published in July – one published by the Centre for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL), entitled “Is the Scientific Council for Policies useful in modern societies?”, and another by the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM), entitled “Report of the Public Consultation on the availability of the spectrum in the 26 GHz frequency band” – show the recent impact that INESC TEC’s scientific activities have had in this area (with special emphasis on the field of telecommunications).

In the CFCUL report – stemming from a series of events organised by the institution, in partnership with the British Embassy in Lisbon –, which brought together politicians, scholars, people involved in scientific policies, and other actors to explore the interface between science and politics, INESC TEC features in the section dedicated to research institutions as a relevant mechanism for the scientific advice of Public Policies. The document highlights the contribution that INESC TEC, like other institutions, has made to the Portuguese Government in emergency situations, like the communication systems that failed during the 2017 fires, but also in other areas of technological impact, e.g., the support provided to the modernisation of the textile industry (particularly to the footwear sector) and the agro-food sector. In addition, the report also highlights the position that INESC TEC holds with the Ministries of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and the Economy, as a consultant in different areas, namely in energy systems (in the use of hydrogen, the regulation of smart electricity networks, and the fiscal policy related to electric vehicles), in the licensing for underwater exploration, and in public health issues that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ANACOM report, which included, among other entities, the contribution of INESC TEC, aimed to make a public consultation on the availability of spectrum in the 26 GHz frequency band. This consultation was carried out with various market players – operators, manufacturers, private and public entities, etc., and included the contribution from 19 entities (INESC TEC, BOSCH, E-REDES, ERICSSON, EMGFA, Eutelsat Madeira, GSOA, HUAWEI, OneWeb, ONI, QUALCOMM, MEO, MITSUBISHI, NOKIA, NOS, NOWO, UM, VIASAT and VODAFONE). This band is currently used for military purposes and is identified by the European Commission as relevant for the use of 5G, due to the associated high capacity. However, there is no agreement regarding the spectrum allocation model, although most of the institutions involved in this report were in favour of making it available. The INESC TEC team that contributed to this report included researchers Hélder Fontes, Hermann Bergmann, Luís Pessoa, Manuel Ricardo, Nuno Almeida, Rogério Dionísio and Rui Campos, who jointly issued an opinion on the various topics discussed in the document.

In the document, INESC TEC presents its position concerning the use of the 26 GHz frequency band, regarding the technical, economic, and public interest dimensions.
Regarding the use of the 26 GHz frequency band, two aspects stand out: spectrum reservation for the “vertical” sectors (*) and R&D and multiplicity of application scenarios.

Regarding the reservation of spectrum for vertical sectors and R&D, and according to the INESC TEC researchers involved in the development of this document, it is extremely important to focus on this issue, considering the acceleration of the digitalisation of the Portuguese economy, since it enables the creation of private networks, ensuring the quality of service and adapting to the specific needs of each vertical sector. According to INESC TEC reasoning, it is also important to reserve a spectrum band, geographically limited, in the context of Technology Free Zones (ZLTs), for R&D activities. “Ideally, we should consider an 800 MHz contiguous block that boosts the research, development and testing of new 5G and beyond 5G communications solutions in a real environment – especially in the context of partnerships between universities, polytechnic institutes, research institutes and national industry”, stated Manuel Ricardo, associate director of INESC TEC involved in the elaboration of the document.

Regarding the multiplicity of application scenarios, and according to the researchers, the 26 GHz band has potential application interest in multiple scenarios, including:

  • the creation of private 5G/beyond 5G networks in industrial/business, rail, road, maritime, port and airport environments;
  • the provision of 5G/beyond 5G public networks at train stations, service areas, airports, major temporary events and traffic-intensive urban areas;
  • creating backhaul networks as an alternative to installing fibre in rural or hard-to-reach areas.

“In addition to the use of the 26 GHz frequency band, the development of 5G and 6G networks will benefit from other frequency bands, including above and below 100 GHz, according to the frequency bands already identified in WRC-19”, said Rui Campos, coordinator of INESC TEC’s Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia, also involved in the elaboration of this document. According to the researcher, the availability of ultra-wide bandwidths in these frequency bands will contribute to the development of very high-speed wireless communications systems, which will support new applications, including wireless data centres and virtual, augmented and mixed reality, with quality-of-service requirements that 5G does not currently meet.

Technological transition, driven by the evolution of science, has accelerated and increased the emergence of global challenges and opportunities. Said challenges and opportunities generate the need for adequate public policy responses, as well as new mechanisms and systems to support their formulation, which allow decision-making in this sphere to be carried out by mobilising scientific evidence. INESC TEC is also evolving in response to said challenges and opportunities, with a clear investment in enabling contributions in this field and aligning them with the strategic choices the Institute focuses on/is involved with.

 

(*) Markets or sectors of society where 5G technologies and systems are expected to be widely used.

 

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and UP-FEUP.

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