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Reflections on the We Are Connected – Are We Protected? Summit

A Summary of PETRAS's Flagship Summit - Including Video Content and Photos


The PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity was delighted to host the We Are Connected – Are We Protected? summit on 21 February 2024 in the County Hall at London’s Belvedere Road, overlooking the Thames and Palace of Westminster.

The day-long event, exploring ideas of prioritising the human experience, privacy and security in a digitally connected world, was the centre’s biggest one yet — registering over 250 participants, and featuring 27 industry and academic exhibitors. The event saw the likes of Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein (City, University of London), Caroline Gorski (Captial Enterprise), and Dame Caroline Dinenage (Member of Parliament) delivering insightful keynote speeches.


PETRAS Director’s Opening Remarks & Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein’s Keynote

Lancaster University’s Professor Rachel Cooper OBE was the compere for proceedings, which kicked off with a Welcome and Introduction note by PETRAS Director Professor Jeremy D Watson CBE FREng FIET.

Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein was the summit’s first keynote speaker. His informal speech touched on the story of his involvement in the development of the NHS contact tracing app, one that had ‘not been told before.’ He reiterated that all future emergencies would have a strong digital component and probed the question of if all government and private stakeholders were investing in the right places.


Caroline Gorski’s Keynote

The second keynote ‘Learning to speak machine’ was delivered by Caroline Gorski. Her talk dove into the synapses between IoT devices and its human users. She moved from the pervasiveness, benefits, drawbacks of technology to the co-created future of the world where ‘we will all get better at ‘speaking machine’, and they will get much, much better at listening to us.’

‘Living in the Moment with AI … in Music’ with Professor Dave de Roure

After a brief break, the event resumed to a provocation by Professor David De Roure FBCS FIMA FRSA (University of Oxford). ‘In the Moment with AI… in Music’ was a short glimpse into Prof. De Roure’s research on humans and AI through sound, blurring the boundaries between the two. His talk deliberated on the history of mechanised humanity where ‘we are all connected humans, extensively coupled in the physical and digital worlds.’

Interconnected Challenges of Connected Places

The first panel discussion of the afternoon ‘Interconnected Connected Challenges of Connected Places’ chaired by Dr Gideon Ogunniye (University College London). The panel saw Liam O’Brien (DSIT), Ben Edginton-Thomas (Plexal), Ed Parham (Space Syntax) and Professor Julie McCann (PETRAS & Imperial College London) discussing their approach and experiences on how to interface with the public about sustainable connected places. There was a dynamic conversation about the different roles of stakeholders in the security and privacy of connected places, the concept of sustainable connected places and their diverse opportunities for the future.


During the lunch break participants had the chance to network with various institutional and industrial stakeholders, and engage with exhibits on National Infrastructure & Manufacturing, Built Environments, Health, and Transport.


Prioritising Privacy & Security of Connected Homes

Attendees returned for an exciting panel discussion on ‘Prioritising Privacy and Security of Connected Homes’. University College London’s Dr Anna Maria Mandalaria delivered the keynote for the panel where she elaborated on her research on security and privacy risks in connected devices. Chaired by Dr Oktay Cetinkaya (University of Oxford), the panel comprising Tony Williams, (Cube Controls), Michael Grant (Metrikus), and Sam Cater (BT Research and Network Strategy) deliberated on questions of the general public’s understanding of the privacy and security implications of connected homes, agency when selecting and deploying these technologies and the ways in which privacy and security can be prioritised.

Citizens’ Rights and the Cybersecurity Implications of Wearable Technologies

The final panel of the day on ‘Citzens’ Rights and the Cybersecurity Implications of Wearable Technologies’ was a riveting discussion of public awareness of data use, cybersecurity implications of user data, and the impact of technologies on specific groups. Dame Caroline Dinenage MP (Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee) set the ground running with her insightful opening remarks, followed by an overview by Professor Simon KC Toh (Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust) of the benefits of MedTech for the NHS and for patient care. Panel members Dr Maryam Mehrnezhad (Royal Holloway, University of London), Mike Hobby (Cambridge Consultants) and Julie Dawson (Yoti), along with the chair, Dr Peter Novitzky (University College London), livened up the conversation with their expertise in FemTech and healthcare domains, leaving a mark on the audience.

Networking Reception

The summit closed with a networking reception with PETRAS’s expansive network of experts in academia, and the public and private sectors, giving the participants an opportunity to reflect on and consider the key take away messages from the day.


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