Let’s invent together a smarter and safer world

It is more than ever time to invest in ICT

Valérie Blavette

I hope all readers of CELTIC News are well. My feeling is that going through a pandemic changes us and makes us think differently. It makes us understand what is crucial and what is only nice to have. We also learn that we can adapt, do things differently and fast. Not only AI will pave the way for a smarter world, even if for sure AI will play an important role there.

Despite all difficulties, most of us have still been able to telework and communicate thanks to digital tools, telecom networks and the cloud.

AI, telecom and IT tools have proved to be critical assets

First of all we can be proud of our telecom and IT assets. As an example, the dimensioning of networks allowed the unusual traffic peaks during the first weeks of the crisis. Working for the research of a big telecom operator, Orange, I am proud of my colleagues in the operational units and of all the working forces which allowed the continuity of services of the critical infrastructures.

Most importantly, the telecom infrastructures connected the hospitals and the businesses during that strained period. What would have been our daily life during the social distancing measures and home office without the telecom infrastructure? Without the digital applications? Without news from the remote family, talking to friends, allowing grandparents to see the younger ones, exchanging and getting information, making online food shopping? As a mother, I also appreciated that my children could do their lessons online, even if it is not always easy for a ten-year-old boy to organize his daily screen time around math, English and geography instead of using it for Fortnite, FIFA or “The Legend of Zelda”.

When I helped our au pair to get her first online medical teleconsultation from home, I thought of the CELTIC eHealth projects HIPERMED and E3, which created novel solutions for teleconsultation and telesurgery.

Some results from other CELTIC projects have also been very valuable, like VIRTUOSE, which created solutions for multi-party ­video communication and video analysis, area management and security. Or the UNICRINF project, which developed novel solutions for improving emergency communication.

Continuous support by the CELTIC ­Office

At the time I wrote this article, the CELTIC office was busy as always supporting proposers and CELTIC projects at any stage. For running projects online reviews have been organized. A first joint call between the CELTIC and the EUROGIA communities has been organized during the first trimester of this year. On 31st of March the CELTIC office has held a successful AI proposer’s webinar with a large audience – around 200 registered participants from 24 countries, many of them joining from home.

EUREKA Clusters AI call

At a time when the COVID-19 crisis has created more solidarity, more connections, even if we needed to be physically distant, the Clusters CELTIC-NEXT, EUROGIA, ITEA, PENTA and EURIPIDES2 have been cooperating more than ever to define the first EUREKA Clusters AI call.

When defining this first common call, the EUREKA Clusters have learnt a lot on how to streamline processes and make it easier for both applicants and Public Authorities. In particular a single online project submission tool for all participating Clusters has been defined and set up. We proved collectively agile, and I would like to thank the inter-Cluster colleagues for their cooperation in this new adventure.


Going back to the Coronavirus crisis, I hope we will be collectively able to heed all the lessons learned. No doubt our ICT infrastructures, digital tools and the use of AI at different levels have saved many lives since the beginning of the year. Some Asian countries especially reacted very fast, showing us images of what we so far thought was sci-fi. Thanks to Big Data, IA, and global collaboration, the research helped a lot to react as fast as possible to limit the damages caused by the pandemic.

That is why, even if the European and worldwide economy will need some time to recover, I am convinced it is more than ever time to invest in ICT. Research should be as fast as possible, to fight such a pandemic or to invent a smarter, safer world. That is what CELTIC and EUREKA should be after in the coming months.

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