Cloud Computing

CERN is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading laboratories for particle physics. At CERN, physicists and engineers probe the fundamental structure of the universe. To do this, they use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments – particle accelerators and detectors. Technologies developed at CERN go on to have a significant impact through their applications in wider society.

Digital activities

CERN has had an important role in the history of computing and networks. The World Wide Web (WWW) was invented at CERN by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists at universities and institutes around the world.

Grid computing was also developed at CERN with partners and thanks to funding from the European Commission. The organisation also carries out activities in the areas of cybersecurity, big data, machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), data preservation, and quantum technology.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence 1AI-related projects are developed and referred to as part of the CERN openlab activities.

Through CERN openlab, CERN collaborates with leading information and communications technology (ICT) companies and research institutes. The R&D projects carried out through CERN openlab address topics related to data acquisition, computing platforms, data storage architectures, computer provisioning and management, networks and communication, ML and data analytics, and quantum technologies. CERN researchers use ML techniques as part of their efforts to maximise the potential for discovery and optimise resource usage. ML is used, for instance, to improve the performance of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments in areas such as particle detection and managing computing resources. Going one step further, at the intersection of AI and quantum computing, CERN openlab is exploring the feasibility of using quantum algorithms to track the particles produced by collisions in the LHC, and is working on developing quantum algorithms to help optimise how data is distributed for storage in the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG). This research is part of the CERN Quantum Technology Initiative (QTI) activities, launched in 2020 to shape CERN’s role in the next quantum revolution.

–   CERN openlab: a public-private partnership in which CERN collaborates with ICT companies and other research organisations to accelerate the development of cutting-edge solutions for the research community, including ML.

CERN QTI: a comprehensive R&D, academic, and knowledge-sharing initiative to exploit quantum advantage for high-energy physics and beyond. Given CERN’s increasing ITC and computing demands, as well as the significant national and international interests in quantum-technology activities, it aims to provide dedicated mechanisms for the exchange of both knowledge and innovation.

Cloud computing 2Within its work, CERN refers to ‘cloud computing’ as ‘distributed computing.

The scale and complexity of data from the LHC, the world’s largest particle accelerator, is unprecedented. This data needs to be stored, easily retrieved, and analysed by physicists worldwide. This requires massive storage facilities, global networking, immense computing power, and funding. CERN did not initially have the computing or financial resources to crunch all of the data on-site, so in 2002 it turned to grid computing to share the burden with computer centres around the world. The WLCG builds on the ideas of grid technology initially proposed in 1999 by Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman. The WLCG relies on a distributed computing infrastructure, as data from the collisions of protons or heavy ions are distributed via the internet for processing at data centres worldwide. This approach of using virtual machines is based on the same paradigm as cloud computing. It is expected that further CERN developments in the field of data processing will continue to influence digital technologies.

Telecommunication infrastructure 3Within its work, CERN refers to ‘telecommunication infrastructure’ as ‘network infrastructure’.

In the 1970s, CERN developed CERNET, a lab-wide network to access mainframe computers in its data centre. This pioneering network eventually led CERN to become an early European adopter of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) for use in connecting systems on site. In 1989, CERN opened its first external TCP/IP connections and by 1990, CERN had become the largest internet site in Europe and was ready to host the first WWW server. Nowadays, in addition to the WLCG and its distributed computing infrastructure, CERN is also the host of the CERN Internet eXchange Point (CIXP), which optimises CERN’s internet connectivity and is also open to interested internet service providers (ISPs).

Digital standards 4Within its work, CERN addresses ‘web standards’ as ‘open science’.

Ever since releasing the World Wide Web software under an open-source model in 1994, CERN has been a pioneer in the open-source field, supporting open-source hardware (with the CERN Open Hardware Licence), open access (with the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in Particle Physics SCOAP3) and open data (with the CERN Open Data Portal). Several CERN technologies are being developed with open science in mind, such as Indico, InvenioRDM, REANA, and Zenodo. Open-source software, such as CERNBox, CERN Tape Archive (CTA), EOS, File Transfer Service (FTS), GeantIV, ROOT, RUCIO, and service for web-based analysis (SWAN), has been developed to handle, distribute, and analyse the huge volumes of data generated by the LHC experiments and are also made available to the wider society.

Digital tools

Data governance 5Within its work, CERN refers to ‘data governance’ as ‘data preservation’.

CERN manages vast amounts of data; not only scientific data, but also data in more common formats such as webpages, images and videos, documents, and more. For instance, the CERN Data Centre processes on average one petabyte (one million gigabytes) of data per day. As such, the organisation notes that it faces the challenge of preserving its digital memory. CERN also points to the fact that many of the tools that are used to preserve data generated by the LHC and other scientific projects are also suitable for preserving other types of data and are made available to wider society.

The CERN Open Data Policy for scientific experiments at the LHC is essential to make scientific research more reproducible, accessible, and collaborative. It reflects values that have been enshrined in the CERN Convention for more than 60 years that were reaffirmed in the European Strategy for Particle Physics (2020), and aims to empower the LHC experiments to adopt a consistent approach towards the openness and preservation of experimental data (applying FAIR standards to better share and reuse data).

EOSC Future is an EU-funded project that is contributing to establishing the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to provide a Web of FAIR Data and Services for science in Europe. The implementation of EOSC is based on the long-term process of alignment and coordination pursued by the Commission since 2015.

CERN joined the recently formed EOSC Association in 2020. The EOSC Association is the legal entity established to govern the EOSC and has since grown to more than 250 members and observers.

Future of meetings

More information about ongoing and upcoming events, you can find on the events page.

Social media channels

Facebook @cern

Instagram @cern

LinkedIn @cern

X @CERN

YouTube @CERN




Future of Work

EFTA is an intergovernmental organisation composed of four member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Established in 1960 by the EFTA Convention, EFTA promotes free trade and economic integration between its members. Since its foundation, relations with the European Union (EU) have been at the heart of EFTA’s activities. In 1992, three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) signed the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) with the EU, extending the EU’s Internal market to the three EEA EFTA states. Since the early 1990s, EFTA has been actively engaged in trade relations with non-EU countries both inside and outside Europe.

Digital activities

EFTA’s activities in the context of digital issues pertain to electronic communication such as the exchange of information via telecommunications and the internet, audiovisual services, and information society, including the free movement of information society services as well as data protection.

E-commerce and trade

EFTA’s Working Group on Electronic Communication, Audiovisual Services, and Information Society (WG ECASIS) deals with legal provisions pertaining to the EU’s digital strategy: Fit for the Digital Age. As per the EEA Agreement, the EFTA states (excluding Switzerland) participate in the EU’s internal market and as such must apply EU rules on electronic communication, audiovisual services, and information society. Among other things, these rules include acts on radio spectrum management, roaming, privacy protection in electronic networks, net neutrality, and the deployment of very-high-capacity networks. Initiatives regarding information society tackle legal frameworks on the free movement of information society services and apply to a wide range of economic activities taking place online. These include rules on e-commerce, cross-border data flows, the reuse of public sector information, and cybersecurity, as well as electronic identification and signatures. 

In its trade relations with partners outside the EU, EFTA facilitates and provides basic rules for trade enabled by electronic means. In 2021, EFTA finalised its internal work on a new e-commerce model chapter, which it now employs in the context of negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) across the globe. The chapter includes provisions on paperless trade administration, open internet access, online consumer trust, electronic payments and invoicing, and cross-border data transfers, among others. EFTA is further negotiating a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore.

Future of work

EFTA is also tackling the implications of digitalisation for the future of work. A resolution and report titled Digitalisation and its Impact on Jobs and Skills published by the EEA Consultative Committee highlights the importance of investments in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and new learning methods, including apprenticeships and workplace training. Moreover, they underline the need to examine whether and to what extent workers’ private lives require additional protection in an era of ubiquitous digital mobile communication.

More recently, the EEA Consultative Committee adopted a resolution and report on the challenges and opportunities of greater use of AI in working life, in which it underlines the importance of addressing issues raised by the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) in work-life in a systematic and comprehensive manner in the EEA, while following the principles of transparency and human monitoring.

Data governance and liability of intermediaries

In the context of the EEA Agreement, WG ECASIS works with the EU on policies for creating a single market for data, as well as the conditions for use and access to data for businesses and governments within the EEA. The Working Group also engages with the EU to develop a common regulatory framework for AI. In the area of online intermediaries, the EEA EFTA states have issued common position papers (EEA EFTA Comments) on the proposed European Media Freedom Act and the new EU rules for internet platforms: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. The EEA EFTA states advocate for additional safeguards regarding the use of recommender systems, consumer profiling, and micro-targeted advertising, in particular when directed at minors and vulnerable groups. WG ECASIS works to implement EU content rules affecting trade in the EU’s internal market, particularly with regard to the dissemination of terrorist content and child sexual abuse material online.

Privacy and data protection

EFTA’s Expert Group on Data Protection keeps track of EU initiatives in the domain of data protection, which has become particularly relevant in the fast-changing digital environment. The Expert Group contributes to the development of EU policies and legislation in the field of data protection by advising the European Commission, or by participating in the Commission’s committees, in accordance with the EEA Agreement. The EEA Agreement covers EU legislation such as the e-Privacy Directive and Regulation 611/2013 on notifications of data breaches and is therefore applicable to three EFTA states. The Expert Group is coordinating with the European Commission on new EU data adequacy decisions allowing the international transfer of personal data with counterparties located outside the EEA.

The EFTA trade statistics tool is an interactive tool that provides data on trade relations with EFTA’s partners over time and by type of merchandise. An interactive Free Trade Map illustrates EFTA’s preferential trade relations with partners worldwide. In August 2023, EFTA updated its FTA Monitor, originally published in June 2022, which provides fine-grained data on preference utilisation rates under EFTA’s existing FTAs, including the EFTA Convention. The FTA Monitor is updated annually. EFTA has also created a web tool containing visual presentations explaining how EU law becomes EEA law.

Future of meetings

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, EFTA turned to virtual meetings, for instance in the case of the EEA Joint Committee, interaction with the  EFTA Advisory Bodies, and FTA negotiations with partners across the globe. EFTA continues to leverage the benefits of virtual and hybrid meetings and corollary online platforms, striking a balance with physical meetings on a needs basis

Social media channels

Facebook @eftasecretariat

Instagram @eftasecretariat

LinkedIn @efta

X @EFTAsecretariat

YouTube @EFTAvideo

Emerging Technologies

The GSPI is a neutral and independent platform that aims to foster engagement between the research community and Geneva-based international policy actors around some of the most pressing global challenges (including global health, climate change, and migration). 

It works to foster science-policy ecosystems by brokering collaborations and enhancing capacities across the interface between the science, policy, and implementation communities. This includes an annual call for projects, the Impact Collaboration Programme (ICP), the production of policy briefs, as well as learning opportunities and resources to advance the professionalisation and recognition of the science-policy field of practice in Geneva and beyond.

The GSPI is based at the University of Geneva. It receives support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the backing of leading research institutions in Switzerland and Europe.

Digital activities

As part of its activities at the interplay between science, policy, and implementation actors, the GSPI tackles a range of digital issues. With data being a centrepiece of evidence-based policies, many of the GSPI’s activities touch on digitalisation and the use of digital tools in domains such as health, migration, development, and the environment.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

The project MapMaker, a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) has enabled the development of an online visualisation tool to inform data-driven decision-making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.

Digital standards

Together with the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), the GSPI has established a working group including key humanitarian actors to harness knowledge and best practices around the digitisation of clinical guidelines for management of childhood illness in primary care in low and middle-income countries. In line with the efforts of the WHO, and the principles of donor alignment for digital health, the working group has developed recommendations on how digitalisation can improve the management of childhood illness. In September 2021, the results of this work were shared with experts and the public, providing a platform for discussions on the lessons learned and future trends in the field.

Emerging technologies

In 2018, the GSPI organised policy discussions on the use of drones as part of humanitarian action. The conversation centred on the practical use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid and what can be done by stakeholders such as policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of such technologies.

At the 2019 Digital Day, together with the University of Geneva, the GSPI organised a discussion exploring what experience and know-how Geneva-based organisations could share to empower and protect users in the context of the digital revolution.

With a number of other partners, the GSPI co-organised a discussion at the 2019 WSIS Forum on aerial data produced by drones and satellites in the context of aid and development. The session explored the interplay between international organisations, NGOs, and scientists and how they can work together to help monitor refugee settlements, provide emergency response in case of natural disasters, and scale agriculture programmes.

Data governance

The project REDEHOPE of the University of Geneva and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has led to the development of an online diagnostic tool to help countries identify and visualise issues in their housing data ecology, and access appropriate datasets to formulate more robust, evidence-based housing policies at the country level.

Sustainable development

In 2020–2021, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention (BRS) secretariat benefitted from the support of ETH Zurich to develop an online platform to identify and signal the need for evidence and information to the scientific community in the field of chemical and waste management.

A project from ICP 2021 addressed the hurdles facing policy actors in accessing and making sense of data in migration research. The project partners (the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Graduate Institute) developed an interactive digital toolkit for policy officials to support them in leveraging migration research for evidence-based policymaking. The toolkit, based on IOM’s flagship publication, the World Migration Report, was launched in June 2022.

ICP 2021 brought support to the development of interactive analytical tools providing information about all UN sanctions to inform both humanitarian practitioners and sanction policy actors on practical ways to safeguard principled humanitarian action in areas under a sanction regime. This project is a collaboration between the Graduate Institute and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

ICP 2022 selected a collaboration between ETH Zurich and IOM that seeks to bring more effective policy expertise in the management of migration to address migrants’ needs and increase social cohesion between migrant and local communities. The collaboration will develop a toolbox to be used by IOM and its partners to facilitate the use of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index, a survey tool for governments, nonprofits, and researchers to measure the integration of immigrants around the world.

Human rights principles

Also in the framework of its ICP, the GSPI has supported a collaboration between the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and OHCHR’s B-Tech project. Some of the new fast-evolving technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technologies, and the internet of things (IoT), can have profoundly disrupting effects on sociopolitical systems and pose significant human rights challenges. This initiative provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space and placing international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks. Aimed at policymakers, the technology sector, and all those working on the regulation of AI, the policy research carried out in this project (see resulting Working Paper, 2021) brings fresh insights into how current initiatives on the regulation of AI technologies could incorporate the protection and respect for human rights. Published by the Geneva Academy, the paper also calls on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector. This GSPI-supported science-policy process will formally feed the development of a ‘UN Guiding Principles check’ tool (working title), which will provide states with a roadmap to assess their regulatory efforts across different policy domains relevant to technology.

Digital tools

Social media channels

LinkedIn @genevaspi

Twitter @GenevaSPI

Data Governance

Ecma International is a global standards development organisation dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems. Established in 1961, Ecma has been a pioneer in providing a framework for the collaboration of standardisation and open source. The work is driven by Ecma members to address market requirements, providing a healthy competitive environment where competition is based on the differentiation of products and services, and where vendors and users can rely on the interoperability of technical solutions.

Areas of work include the development and publication of Standards and Technical Reports for information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE), with a broad scope of standardisation topics including hardware, software, communications, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), programming languages, media storage, and environmental subjects. Ecma’s pragmatic, flexible, member-driven model is effective at enabling technical committees to form and iterate rapidly on internationally recognised open standards.

Digital activities

For over 60 years, Ecma has actively contributed to worldwide standardisation in information technology and telecommunications. More than 400 Ecma Standards and 100 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, covering areas such as data presentation and communication, data interchange and archiving, access systems and interconnection and multimedia, programming languages, and software engineering and interfaces, two-thirds of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports.
One of the first programming languages developed by Ecma, FORTRAN, was approved in 1965. ECMAScript® (JavaScript), with several billion implementations, is one of the most used standards worldwide.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

A large part of Ecma’s activity is dedicated to defining standards and technical reports for ICTs (hardware, software, communications, media storage, etc.). This work is carried out through technical committees and task groups focusing on issues such as information storage, multimedia coding and communications, programming languages, open XML formats, and product-related environmental attributes. Our members are committed to Ecma’s success and progress and follow best practices and efficient processes for the development and approval of standards, making Ecma a respected and trusted industry association. Ecma has close working relations – such as liaisons, cooperation agreements, and memberships – with European and international standardisation bodies as well as with some forums and consortia. Our long-established relationships with other standardisation organisations are well maintained and enable us to publish our specifications as international standards.

Telecommunications infrastructure

Network security

Sustainable development/Digital and environment

Programming languages such as ECMAScript (JavaScript) and C#

Data-related standards

Technical committees (TCs) and task groups (TGs) covering issues such as access systems and information exchange between systems (TC51), information storage (TC31), product-related environmental attributes (TC38), ECMAScript® language (TC39), office open XML formats (TC45), and ECMAScript® modules for embedded systems (TC53). The list of Ecma standards is noted above.

Future of standards

The participation in Ecma of many worldwide leading companies ensures not only the acceptance of Ecma Standards in European and international standardisation, but also their worldwide implementation.

Ecma’s goal for the next decade is to continue to play a key role in the extraordinary development of IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics, via the dissemination of new technologies, and by the delivery of first-class standards to our members, partners, and the standard-user community. Ecma aims to continue to bring in major contributions, move technology from members to mature standards, and collaborate with the world’s major standards developing organisations (SDOs).

Future of meetings

Ecma maintains a pragmatic approach to meeting participation. Our General Assembly typically takes place as a physical meeting to allow in-person discussions and interaction among members. For members who cannot participate in person, remote attendance is possible with videoconferencing and other digital tools. 

Ecma’s technical committees hold either physical, hybrid, or virtual meetings depending on their specific needs.

Ecma meetings are typically held outside of Ecma’s HQ. As a general principle, members are encouraged to host meetings.  Invitations are by a technical committee member who host the meeting at a facility of their choice.

For meetings, consensus building, and voting, Ecma focuses on being efficient and effective. The meeting place and mode are decided upon by the committee.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @ecma-international

X @EcmaIntl

Digital Standards

Ecma International is a global standards development organisation dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems. Established in 1961, Ecma has been a pioneer in providing a framework for the collaboration of standardisation and open source. The work is driven by Ecma members to address market requirements, providing a healthy competitive environment where competition is based on the differentiation of products and services, and where vendors and users can rely on the interoperability of technical solutions.

Areas of work include the development and publication of Standards and Technical Reports for information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE), with a broad scope of standardisation topics including hardware, software, communications, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), programming languages, media storage, and environmental subjects. Ecma’s pragmatic, flexible, member-driven model is effective at enabling technical committees to form and iterate rapidly on internationally recognised open standards.

Digital activities

For over 60 years, Ecma has actively contributed to worldwide standardisation in information technology and telecommunications. More than 400 Ecma Standards and 100 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, covering areas such as data presentation and communication, data interchange and archiving, access systems and interconnection and multimedia, programming languages, and software engineering and interfaces, two-thirds of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports.
One of the first programming languages developed by Ecma, FORTRAN, was approved in 1965. ECMAScript® (JavaScript), with several billion implementations, is one of the most used standards worldwide.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

A large part of Ecma’s activity is dedicated to defining standards and technical reports for ICTs (hardware, software, communications, media storage, etc.). This work is carried out through technical committees and task groups focusing on issues such as information storage, multimedia coding and communications, programming languages, open XML formats, and product-related environmental attributes. Our members are committed to Ecma’s success and progress and follow best practices and efficient processes for the development and approval of standards, making Ecma a respected and trusted industry association. Ecma has close working relations – such as liaisons, cooperation agreements, and memberships – with European and international standardisation bodies as well as with some forums and consortia. Our long-established relationships with other standardisation organisations are well maintained and enable us to publish our specifications as international standards.

Telecommunications infrastructure

Network security

Sustainable development/Digital and environment

Programming languages such as ECMAScript (JavaScript) and C#

Data-related standards

Technical committees (TCs) and task groups (TGs) covering issues such as access systems and information exchange between systems (TC51), information storage (TC31), product-related environmental attributes (TC38), ECMAScript® language (TC39), office open XML formats (TC45), and ECMAScript® modules for embedded systems (TC53). The list of Ecma standards is noted above.

Future of standards

The participation in Ecma of many worldwide leading companies ensures not only the acceptance of Ecma Standards in European and international standardisation, but also their worldwide implementation.

Ecma’s goal for the next decade is to continue to play a key role in the extraordinary development of IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics, via the dissemination of new technologies, and by the delivery of first-class standards to our members, partners, and the standard-user community. Ecma aims to continue to bring in major contributions, move technology from members to mature standards, and collaborate with the world’s major standards developing organisations (SDOs).

Future of meetings

Ecma maintains a pragmatic approach to meeting participation. Our General Assembly typically takes place as a physical meeting to allow in-person discussions and interaction among members. For members who cannot participate in person, remote attendance is possible with videoconferencing and other digital tools. 

Ecma’s technical committees hold either physical, hybrid, or virtual meetings depending on their specific needs.

Ecma meetings are typically held outside of Ecma’s HQ. As a general principle, members are encouraged to host meetings.  Invitations are by a technical committee member who host the meeting at a facility of their choice.

For meetings, consensus building, and voting, Ecma focuses on being efficient and effective. The meeting place and mode are decided upon by the committee.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @ecma-international

X @EcmaIntl

Digital Economy and Trade

EFTA is an intergovernmental organisation composed of four member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Established in 1960 by the EFTA Convention, EFTA promotes free trade and economic integration between its members. Since its foundation, relations with the European Union (EU) have been at the heart of EFTA’s activities. In 1992, three EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) signed the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA) with the EU, extending the EU’s Internal market to the three EEA EFTA states. Since the early 1990s, EFTA has been actively engaged in trade relations with non-EU countries both inside and outside Europe.

Digital activities

EFTA’s activities in the context of digital issues pertain to electronic communication such as the exchange of information via telecommunications and the internet, audiovisual services, and information society, including the free movement of information society services as well as data protection.

E-commerce and trade

EFTA’s Working Group on Electronic Communication, Audiovisual Services, and Information Society (WG ECASIS) deals with legal provisions pertaining to the EU’s digital strategy: Fit for the Digital Age. As per the EEA Agreement, the EFTA states (excluding Switzerland) participate in the EU’s internal market and as such must apply EU rules on electronic communication, audiovisual services, and information society. Among other things, these rules include acts on radio spectrum management, roaming, privacy protection in electronic networks, net neutrality, and the deployment of very-high-capacity networks. Initiatives regarding information society tackle legal frameworks on the free movement of information society services and apply to a wide range of economic activities taking place online. These include rules on e-commerce, cross-border data flows, the reuse of public sector information, and cybersecurity, as well as electronic identification and signatures. 

In its trade relations with partners outside the EU, EFTA facilitates and provides basic rules for trade enabled by electronic means. In 2021, EFTA finalised its internal work on a new e-commerce model chapter, which it now employs in the context of negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs) across the globe. The chapter includes provisions on paperless trade administration, open internet access, online consumer trust, electronic payments and invoicing, and cross-border data transfers, among others. EFTA is further negotiating a Digital Economy Agreement with Singapore.

Future of work

EFTA is also tackling the implications of digitalisation for the future of work. A resolution and report titled Digitalisation and its Impact on Jobs and Skills published by the EEA Consultative Committee highlights the importance of investments in information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and new learning methods, including apprenticeships and workplace training. Moreover, they underline the need to examine whether and to what extent workers’ private lives require additional protection in an era of ubiquitous digital mobile communication.

More recently, the EEA Consultative Committee adopted a resolution and report on the challenges and opportunities of greater use of AI in working life, in which it underlines the importance of addressing issues raised by the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) in work-life in a systematic and comprehensive manner in the EEA, while following the principles of transparency and human monitoring.

Data governance and liability of intermediaries

In the context of the EEA Agreement, WG ECASIS works with the EU on policies for creating a single market for data, as well as the conditions for use and access to data for businesses and governments within the EEA. The Working Group also engages with the EU to develop a common regulatory framework for AI. In the area of online intermediaries, the EEA EFTA states have issued common position papers (EEA EFTA Comments) on the proposed European Media Freedom Act and the new EU rules for internet platforms: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. The EEA EFTA states advocate for additional safeguards regarding the use of recommender systems, consumer profiling, and micro-targeted advertising, in particular when directed at minors and vulnerable groups. WG ECASIS works to implement EU content rules affecting trade in the EU’s internal market, particularly with regard to the dissemination of terrorist content and child sexual abuse material online.

Privacy and data protection

EFTA’s Expert Group on Data Protection keeps track of EU initiatives in the domain of data protection, which has become particularly relevant in the fast-changing digital environment. The Expert Group contributes to the development of EU policies and legislation in the field of data protection by advising the European Commission, or by participating in the Commission’s committees, in accordance with the EEA Agreement. The EEA Agreement covers EU legislation such as the e-Privacy Directive and Regulation 611/2013 on notifications of data breaches and is therefore applicable to three EFTA states. The Expert Group is coordinating with the European Commission on new EU data adequacy decisions allowing the international transfer of personal data with counterparties located outside the EEA.

The EFTA trade statistics tool is an interactive tool that provides data on trade relations with EFTA’s partners over time and by type of merchandise. An interactive Free Trade Map illustrates EFTA’s preferential trade relations with partners worldwide. In August 2023, EFTA updated its FTA Monitor, originally published in June 2022, which provides fine-grained data on preference utilisation rates under EFTA’s existing FTAs, including the EFTA Convention. The FTA Monitor is updated annually. EFTA has also created a web tool containing visual presentations explaining how EU law becomes EEA law.

Future of meetings

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, EFTA turned to virtual meetings, for instance in the case of the EEA Joint Committee, interaction with the  EFTA Advisory Bodies, and FTA negotiations with partners across the globe. EFTA continues to leverage the benefits of virtual and hybrid meetings and corollary online platforms, striking a balance with physical meetings on a needs basis

Social media channels

Facebook @eftasecretariat

Instagram @eftasecretariat

LinkedIn @efta

X @EFTAsecretariat

YouTube @EFTAvideo

Human Rights

The GSPI is a neutral and independent platform that aims to foster engagement between the research community and Geneva-based international policy actors around some of the most pressing global challenges (including global health, climate change, and migration). 

It works to foster science-policy ecosystems by brokering collaborations and enhancing capacities across the interface between the science, policy, and implementation communities. This includes an annual call for projects, the Impact Collaboration Programme (ICP), the production of policy briefs, as well as learning opportunities and resources to advance the professionalisation and recognition of the science-policy field of practice in Geneva and beyond.

The GSPI is based at the University of Geneva. It receives support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the backing of leading research institutions in Switzerland and Europe.

Digital activities

As part of its activities at the interplay between science, policy, and implementation actors, the GSPI tackles a range of digital issues. With data being a centrepiece of evidence-based policies, many of the GSPI’s activities touch on digitalisation and the use of digital tools in domains such as health, migration, development, and the environment.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

The project MapMaker, a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) has enabled the development of an online visualisation tool to inform data-driven decision-making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.

Digital standards

Together with the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), the GSPI has established a working group including key humanitarian actors to harness knowledge and best practices around the digitisation of clinical guidelines for management of childhood illness in primary care in low and middle-income countries. In line with the efforts of the WHO, and the principles of donor alignment for digital health, the working group has developed recommendations on how digitalisation can improve the management of childhood illness. In September 2021, the results of this work were shared with experts and the public, providing a platform for discussions on the lessons learned and future trends in the field.

Emerging technologies

In 2018, the GSPI organised policy discussions on the use of drones as part of humanitarian action. The conversation centred on the practical use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid and what can be done by stakeholders such as policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of such technologies.

At the 2019 Digital Day, together with the University of Geneva, the GSPI organised a discussion exploring what experience and know-how Geneva-based organisations could share to empower and protect users in the context of the digital revolution.

With a number of other partners, the GSPI co-organised a discussion at the 2019 WSIS Forum on aerial data produced by drones and satellites in the context of aid and development. The session explored the interplay between international organisations, NGOs, and scientists and how they can work together to help monitor refugee settlements, provide emergency response in case of natural disasters, and scale agriculture programmes.

Data governance

The project REDEHOPE of the University of Geneva and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has led to the development of an online diagnostic tool to help countries identify and visualise issues in their housing data ecology, and access appropriate datasets to formulate more robust, evidence-based housing policies at the country level.

Sustainable development

In 2020–2021, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention (BRS) secretariat benefitted from the support of ETH Zurich to develop an online platform to identify and signal the need for evidence and information to the scientific community in the field of chemical and waste management.

A project from ICP 2021 addressed the hurdles facing policy actors in accessing and making sense of data in migration research. The project partners (the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Graduate Institute) developed an interactive digital toolkit for policy officials to support them in leveraging migration research for evidence-based policymaking. The toolkit, based on IOM’s flagship publication, the World Migration Report, was launched in June 2022.

ICP 2021 brought support to the development of interactive analytical tools providing information about all UN sanctions to inform both humanitarian practitioners and sanction policy actors on practical ways to safeguard principled humanitarian action in areas under a sanction regime. This project is a collaboration between the Graduate Institute and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

ICP 2022 selected a collaboration between ETH Zurich and IOM that seeks to bring more effective policy expertise in the management of migration to address migrants’ needs and increase social cohesion between migrant and local communities. The collaboration will develop a toolbox to be used by IOM and its partners to facilitate the use of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index, a survey tool for governments, nonprofits, and researchers to measure the integration of immigrants around the world.

Human rights principles

Also in the framework of its ICP, the GSPI has supported a collaboration between the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and OHCHR’s B-Tech project. Some of the new fast-evolving technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technologies, and the internet of things (IoT), can have profoundly disrupting effects on sociopolitical systems and pose significant human rights challenges. This initiative provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space and placing international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks. Aimed at policymakers, the technology sector, and all those working on the regulation of AI, the policy research carried out in this project (see resulting Working Paper, 2021) brings fresh insights into how current initiatives on the regulation of AI technologies could incorporate the protection and respect for human rights. Published by the Geneva Academy, the paper also calls on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector. This GSPI-supported science-policy process will formally feed the development of a ‘UN Guiding Principles check’ tool (working title), which will provide states with a roadmap to assess their regulatory efforts across different policy domains relevant to technology.

Digital tools

Social media channels

LinkedIn @genevaspi

Twitter @GenevaSPI

Conferencing Technologies

Ecma International is a global standards development organisation dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems. Established in 1961, Ecma has been a pioneer in providing a framework for the collaboration of standardisation and open source. The work is driven by Ecma members to address market requirements, providing a healthy competitive environment where competition is based on the differentiation of products and services, and where vendors and users can rely on the interoperability of technical solutions.

Areas of work include the development and publication of Standards and Technical Reports for information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE), with a broad scope of standardisation topics including hardware, software, communications, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), programming languages, media storage, and environmental subjects. Ecma’s pragmatic, flexible, member-driven model is effective at enabling technical committees to form and iterate rapidly on internationally recognised open standards.

Digital activities

For over 60 years, Ecma has actively contributed to worldwide standardisation in information technology and telecommunications. More than 400 Ecma Standards and 100 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, covering areas such as data presentation and communication, data interchange and archiving, access systems and interconnection and multimedia, programming languages, and software engineering and interfaces, two-thirds of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports.
One of the first programming languages developed by Ecma, FORTRAN, was approved in 1965. ECMAScript® (JavaScript), with several billion implementations, is one of the most used standards worldwide.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

A large part of Ecma’s activity is dedicated to defining standards and technical reports for ICTs (hardware, software, communications, media storage, etc.). This work is carried out through technical committees and task groups focusing on issues such as information storage, multimedia coding and communications, programming languages, open XML formats, and product-related environmental attributes. Our members are committed to Ecma’s success and progress and follow best practices and efficient processes for the development and approval of standards, making Ecma a respected and trusted industry association. Ecma has close working relations – such as liaisons, cooperation agreements, and memberships – with European and international standardisation bodies as well as with some forums and consortia. Our long-established relationships with other standardisation organisations are well maintained and enable us to publish our specifications as international standards.

Telecommunications infrastructure

Network security

Sustainable development/Digital and environment

Programming languages such as ECMAScript (JavaScript) and C#

Data-related standards

Technical committees (TCs) and task groups (TGs) covering issues such as access systems and information exchange between systems (TC51), information storage (TC31), product-related environmental attributes (TC38), ECMAScript® language (TC39), office open XML formats (TC45), and ECMAScript® modules for embedded systems (TC53). The list of Ecma standards is noted above.

Future of standards

The participation in Ecma of many worldwide leading companies ensures not only the acceptance of Ecma Standards in European and international standardisation, but also their worldwide implementation.

Ecma’s goal for the next decade is to continue to play a key role in the extraordinary development of IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics, via the dissemination of new technologies, and by the delivery of first-class standards to our members, partners, and the standard-user community. Ecma aims to continue to bring in major contributions, move technology from members to mature standards, and collaborate with the world’s major standards developing organisations (SDOs).

Future of meetings

Ecma maintains a pragmatic approach to meeting participation. Our General Assembly typically takes place as a physical meeting to allow in-person discussions and interaction among members. For members who cannot participate in person, remote attendance is possible with videoconferencing and other digital tools. 

Ecma’s technical committees hold either physical, hybrid, or virtual meetings depending on their specific needs.

Ecma meetings are typically held outside of Ecma’s HQ. As a general principle, members are encouraged to host meetings.  Invitations are by a technical committee member who host the meeting at a facility of their choice.

For meetings, consensus building, and voting, Ecma focuses on being efficient and effective. The meeting place and mode are decided upon by the committee.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @ecma-international

X @EcmaIntl

Digital and Environment

Ecma International is a global standards development organisation dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems. Established in 1961, Ecma has been a pioneer in providing a framework for the collaboration of standardisation and open source. The work is driven by Ecma members to address market requirements, providing a healthy competitive environment where competition is based on the differentiation of products and services, and where vendors and users can rely on the interoperability of technical solutions.

Areas of work include the development and publication of Standards and Technical Reports for information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE), with a broad scope of standardisation topics including hardware, software, communications, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), programming languages, media storage, and environmental subjects. Ecma’s pragmatic, flexible, member-driven model is effective at enabling technical committees to form and iterate rapidly on internationally recognised open standards.

Digital activities

For over 60 years, Ecma has actively contributed to worldwide standardisation in information technology and telecommunications. More than 400 Ecma Standards and 100 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, covering areas such as data presentation and communication, data interchange and archiving, access systems and interconnection and multimedia, programming languages, and software engineering and interfaces, two-thirds of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports.
One of the first programming languages developed by Ecma, FORTRAN, was approved in 1965. ECMAScript® (JavaScript), with several billion implementations, is one of the most used standards worldwide.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

A large part of Ecma’s activity is dedicated to defining standards and technical reports for ICTs (hardware, software, communications, media storage, etc.). This work is carried out through technical committees and task groups focusing on issues such as information storage, multimedia coding and communications, programming languages, open XML formats, and product-related environmental attributes. Our members are committed to Ecma’s success and progress and follow best practices and efficient processes for the development and approval of standards, making Ecma a respected and trusted industry association. Ecma has close working relations – such as liaisons, cooperation agreements, and memberships – with European and international standardisation bodies as well as with some forums and consortia. Our long-established relationships with other standardisation organisations are well maintained and enable us to publish our specifications as international standards.

Telecommunications infrastructure

Network security

Sustainable development/Digital and environment

Programming languages such as ECMAScript (JavaScript) and C#

Data-related standards

Technical committees (TCs) and task groups (TGs) covering issues such as access systems and information exchange between systems (TC51), information storage (TC31), product-related environmental attributes (TC38), ECMAScript® language (TC39), office open XML formats (TC45), and ECMAScript® modules for embedded systems (TC53). The list of Ecma standards is noted above.

Future of standards

The participation in Ecma of many worldwide leading companies ensures not only the acceptance of Ecma Standards in European and international standardisation, but also their worldwide implementation.

Ecma’s goal for the next decade is to continue to play a key role in the extraordinary development of IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics, via the dissemination of new technologies, and by the delivery of first-class standards to our members, partners, and the standard-user community. Ecma aims to continue to bring in major contributions, move technology from members to mature standards, and collaborate with the world’s major standards developing organisations (SDOs).

Future of meetings

Ecma maintains a pragmatic approach to meeting participation. Our General Assembly typically takes place as a physical meeting to allow in-person discussions and interaction among members. For members who cannot participate in person, remote attendance is possible with videoconferencing and other digital tools. 

Ecma’s technical committees hold either physical, hybrid, or virtual meetings depending on their specific needs.

Ecma meetings are typically held outside of Ecma’s HQ. As a general principle, members are encouraged to host meetings.  Invitations are by a technical committee member who host the meeting at a facility of their choice.

For meetings, consensus building, and voting, Ecma focuses on being efficient and effective. The meeting place and mode are decided upon by the committee.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @ecma-international

X @EcmaIntl

Internet of Things

Ecma International is a global standards development organisation dedicated to the standardisation of information and communication systems. Established in 1961, Ecma has been a pioneer in providing a framework for the collaboration of standardisation and open source. The work is driven by Ecma members to address market requirements, providing a healthy competitive environment where competition is based on the differentiation of products and services, and where vendors and users can rely on the interoperability of technical solutions.

Areas of work include the development and publication of Standards and Technical Reports for information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE), with a broad scope of standardisation topics including hardware, software, communications, consumer electronics, Internet of Things (IoT), programming languages, media storage, and environmental subjects. Ecma’s pragmatic, flexible, member-driven model is effective at enabling technical committees to form and iterate rapidly on internationally recognised open standards.

Digital activities

For over 60 years, Ecma has actively contributed to worldwide standardisation in information technology and telecommunications. More than 400 Ecma Standards and 100 Technical Reports of high quality have been published, covering areas such as data presentation and communication, data interchange and archiving, access systems and interconnection and multimedia, programming languages, and software engineering and interfaces, two-thirds of which have also been adopted as International Standards and/or Technical Reports.
One of the first programming languages developed by Ecma, FORTRAN, was approved in 1965. ECMAScript® (JavaScript), with several billion implementations, is one of the most used standards worldwide.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

A large part of Ecma’s activity is dedicated to defining standards and technical reports for ICTs (hardware, software, communications, media storage, etc.). This work is carried out through technical committees and task groups focusing on issues such as information storage, multimedia coding and communications, programming languages, open XML formats, and product-related environmental attributes. Our members are committed to Ecma’s success and progress and follow best practices and efficient processes for the development and approval of standards, making Ecma a respected and trusted industry association. Ecma has close working relations – such as liaisons, cooperation agreements, and memberships – with European and international standardisation bodies as well as with some forums and consortia. Our long-established relationships with other standardisation organisations are well maintained and enable us to publish our specifications as international standards.

Telecommunications infrastructure

Network security

Sustainable development/Digital and environment

Programming languages such as ECMAScript (JavaScript) and C#

Data-related standards

Technical committees (TCs) and task groups (TGs) covering issues such as access systems and information exchange between systems (TC51), information storage (TC31), product-related environmental attributes (TC38), ECMAScript® language (TC39), office open XML formats (TC45), and ECMAScript® modules for embedded systems (TC53). The list of Ecma standards is noted above.

Future of standards

The participation in Ecma of many worldwide leading companies ensures not only the acceptance of Ecma Standards in European and international standardisation, but also their worldwide implementation.

Ecma’s goal for the next decade is to continue to play a key role in the extraordinary development of IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics, via the dissemination of new technologies, and by the delivery of first-class standards to our members, partners, and the standard-user community. Ecma aims to continue to bring in major contributions, move technology from members to mature standards, and collaborate with the world’s major standards developing organisations (SDOs).

Future of meetings

Ecma maintains a pragmatic approach to meeting participation. Our General Assembly typically takes place as a physical meeting to allow in-person discussions and interaction among members. For members who cannot participate in person, remote attendance is possible with videoconferencing and other digital tools. 

Ecma’s technical committees hold either physical, hybrid, or virtual meetings depending on their specific needs.

Ecma meetings are typically held outside of Ecma’s HQ. As a general principle, members are encouraged to host meetings.  Invitations are by a technical committee member who host the meeting at a facility of their choice.

For meetings, consensus building, and voting, Ecma focuses on being efficient and effective. The meeting place and mode are decided upon by the committee.

Social media channels

LinkedIn @ecma-international

X @EcmaIntl