NGI Forward

NGI Forward is the strategy and policy arm of the European Commission’s flagship Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, which seeks to build a more democratic, inclusive, resilient, sustainable and trustworthy internet by 2030. An internet that respects the fundamental values of privacy, participation and diversity for the benefit of society. The project started in January 2019 and will end in December 2021.

Context

The internet was built on the founding values of freedom, openness and decentralisation.

Over 30 years later, we now live in a world where the internet has become ubiquitous and necessary in our lives and the society as a whole, but where its original values have been betrayed.

The two dominant models ruling today’s internet, though polar opposite, both fail to live up to the promises of the early internet pioneers.

On one hand, there is the “market-rules” model where a handful of companies have control over the fabric of the internet, from its infrastructure to people’s data and, crucially, their attention. This gives them the power to determine what people see, read and buy, influencing what they think, who they vote for and, ultimately, who they are.

On the other hand, there is the “government-rules” model where it’s the institutional authority to decide what people can and cannot see, do, think, be, without even the presumption of freedom, openness and decentralisation.

The society and its citizens have lost control of what they want the internet to be for them.

Vision

We believe that it doesn’t have to be like this. 

We believe that an internet where people are in control is possible. An internet that is open, inclusive and democratic, that respects and protects people, their privacy and their data.

The NGI project sets out how to create this Next Generation Internet, bringing together policymakers and civil society actors to collaborate in finding new solutions to key digital issues.

We believe that Europe has a unique opportunity to implement bold policy interventions both in the form of targeted regulation addressing key problems and forward-looking innovation policy, promoting the development of solutions for the public good, leveraging its global leadership role and the strength of its single market.

Steps

In order to define the strategy and policy for the next generation internet, NGI Forward has 5 steps:

  1. Challenge mapping. Identify the most pressing issues our society faces today in relation to the current state of the internet and other technologies;
  2. Ecosystem mapping. Identify the most pressing issues our society faces today in relation to the current state of the internet and other technologies;
  3. Goals definition. Define the key objectives to guide the development of a more human-centric internet and inform policy and technology decisions;
  4. Vision for the future of the internet. Set out a shared vision for the future internet Europe should aim to create and a practical proof of concept to bring it to life;
  5. Policy & technology roadmaps. Develop a set of concrete roadmaps and robust policy recommendations to achieve the target state for the next generation internet.

Tools

NGI Forward makes use of a variety of methods and tools, but there are two that are of special importance for the project:

  • Collective Intelligence
    • We create an open, vibrant and engaging online community for leading thinkers, innovators, policymakers and the general public to share their opinions and co-create solutions for what kind of future internet they would like to see. See NGI Forward Exchange Platform in the resources below.
    • Attraverso il dialogo e il confronto con le nostre comunità di riferimento, attraverso eventi dal vivo e virtuali, ampliamo il bacino di punti di vista coinvolti e gli diamo l’opportunità di intervenire sulla direzione e gli obiettivi dell’iniziativa NGI. Gli approfondimenti che ne ricaviamo informano direttamente la visione della NGI che stiamo definendo.
  • Data Analytics
    • The internet space is vast, complex and rapidly changing. To make sense of this ever evolving environment, cut through the noise, and focus on just those topics and areas that are likely to play a key role in shaping the future internet we need to continuously map and evaluate the most recent developments. 
    • To do so, we use automated data collection from a variety of multilingual text-based sources across different stakeholder communities and leverage state-of-the-art data science methodologies to analyse them. Data sources include tech media, academic papers, social media, open-source projects and events information. 
    • Code and data sets created are shared as an open-source dynamic toolkit for reproducibility.

Partners

  • Nesta in the United Kingdom works on the vision and policy agenda and oversees the overall direction of the project.
  • DELab at the University of Warsaw in Poland works on mapping emerging trends and dynamics in the internet space, using cutting-edge data science methodologies.
  • Aarhus University in Denmark uses social media data to understand conversations about key internet trends, and helps identify the most important issues moving forward.
  • Edgeryders (Europe-wide, e-residence in Estonia) fosters discussion between stakeholders on their exchange platform, taking a collective intelligence approach.
  • The City of Amsterdam in the Netherlands brings together cities in NGI policy discussions and will host our first major NGI Policy Summit.
  • Nesta Italia in Italy engages with policymakers, thinkers, innovators, and the general public and coordinates our second NGI Policy Summit.
  • Rob van Kranenburg helps convene the NGI ecosystem through regular salons and events all over Europe.