Fostering European  security and innovation with eQM software and consultancy


Trustworthy AI in the wake of the EU AI Act

30 January 2024 - admin

With the adoption of the EU AI Act, the landscape of artificial intelligence in Europe is poised for a significant shift, emphasizing the need for trustworthy AI systems. As a forward-thinking organization, at Enquirya we are deeply invested in understanding the full implications of this groundbreaking regulation. Our research is not just about compliance; it's about pioneering the development of AI technologies that are not only innovative but also ethical, transparent, and aligned with societal values. The EU AI Act marks a crucial step towards setting a global standard for AI, and we are at the forefront, exploring how these standards can be integrated into our work and the AI solutions we provide to our clients.

Our response to the EU AI Act is multifaceted, focusing on tooling, awareness raising, and auditing as the pillars of developing trustworthy AI services. We are currently delving into advanced tooling options that can support the lifecycle of AI systems, ensuring they meet the rigorous requirements set forth by the new regulations. These tools are designed to enhance the transparency and accountability of AI systems, critical factors in building trust between technology providers, users, and the broader public. Alongside, we're rolling out initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of trustworthy AI. Through educational programs and workshops, we aim to equip our team and our partners with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the evolving AI landscape responsibly.

Moreover, we recognize the crucial role of auditing in establishing and maintaining the trustworthiness of AI systems. Our exploration into AI auditing services is focused on developing methodologies that can assess AI systems for fairness, accuracy, transparency, and ethical integrity. As we venture into this new era of AI, our commitment is to lead by example, fostering the development of AI solutions that earn the trust of society while driving innovation forward.

Proactively managing joint IPRs in EU-funded R&D projects

30 September 2023 - admin

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) pose unique challenges in collaborative international R&D projects. The creation and management of joint IPRs are critical for the successful exploitation of research outcomes but can become a stumbling block due to complex ownership issues. Recognizing this, Enquirya has devised a strategic approach to address IPR concerns from the outset, ensuring smooth project progression and maximizing the potential for exploitation.

At the heart of our strategy is the development of a comprehensive IPR Plan at the beginning of a project. This plan outlines clear procedures for the creation, management, and exploitation of joint IPRs, setting a solid foundation for collaboration. By establishing transparent guidelines and expectations around IPR, we mitigate the risks of disputes and streamline the process of bringing innovative solutions to market.

To support the effective implementation of our IPR Plan, we employ a suite of tools and procedures designed to enhance IPR awareness and management among all project partners. This includes targeted IPR awareness training sessions that educate partners on the nuances of IPR management within EU-funded projects. Additionally, we maintain IPR registries that provide a clear record of intellectual property ownership and contributions, ensuring clarity and transparency throughout the project lifecycle. Regular joint components meetings further facilitate open communication and collaboration, allowing partners to discuss and resolve IPR issues as they arise.

Enquirya's proactive approach to managing joint IPRs in EU-funded R&D projects not only addresses potential roadblocks but also fosters a culture of collaboration and innovation. By prioritizing IPR management from the start, we ensure that all project partners are aligned in their goals and equipped to navigate the complexities of joint IPRs, leading to more successful project outcomes and the effective exploitation of research results.

The challenge of market monitoring and innovation in R&D projects

30 May 2023 - admin

Market monitoring in R&D projects, particularly in the context of EU funding, faces significant challenges due to the rapid pace of technological change and unpredictable market shifts. To navigate this complexity, we employ futurist analysis, a forward-looking approach that helps us anticipate market trends and emerging technologies. This method enables us to prepare for future scenarios, ensuring our projects are not just relevant today but poised to lead tomorrow's markets.

To complement our strategic insights from futurist analysis (open source analysis of publication of think tanks), we harness the power of hackathons. These events bring together diverse minds to prototype solutions that address the future market needs we've identified. Hackathons are crucial for testing and refining our futurist predictions, allowing us to iterate rapidly and adapt our strategies in real-time.

Our unique combination of futurist analysis and hackathon-driven innovation positions us to tackle the inherent uncertainties of market monitoring in EU-funded R&D projects. This approach not only keeps us ahead of market trends but also fosters a culture of proactive, collaborative innovation, ensuring that our projects make a lasting impact.

Final Conference of the ECHO project

24 February 2023 - admin

On 24 February 2023, the final conference of the European ECHO project took place in Brussels, Belgium. In 49 months, 33 partners from 16 countries have worked on establishing the 'European network of Cybersecurity centers and competence Hub for innovation and Operations)' and its various components (including the Early Warning System, the Federated Cyber ​​Ranges, the Cyber Skills Framework, the Technology Roadmaps and Certification). Enquirya actively participated in the project and contributed to the Cyber ​​Skills Framework (evaluation), two Technology Roadmaps (Federated Cyber ​​Ranges and AI CISO), innovation management, governance and operations. We consolidated a network of professional partnerships over the years and expect that we will form new research and development partnerships, leading to innovative new products. If you want to know more about this project, visit the project's website

Kick-off of the ACTING project

20 December 2022 - admin

December 14, 2022 saw the official start of the European ACTING project in Sofia, Bulgaria. This research project is funded by the European Defense Fund (EDF) and will deliver an 'Advanced European platform and network of Cybersecurity training and exercises centers' in 48 months. Enquirya will actively contribute to the development of this platform and its evaluation component in a consortium of 28 partners from 13 EU Member States. Once the project's website is available, its link will be posted here.

ECHO: Cyber exercise at Bournemouth University

10 December 2022 - admin

One of the final events of the ECHO project was a cyber exercise, held at the premises of the partner Bournemouth University on 7 December 2022. Students from BSc Forensics and Computer Security course exercised the response to simulated attacks based on a complex, multi-domain scenario. Enquirya implemented in close collaboration with the Belgian Royal Military Academy and the Bulgarian partner European Software Institute the exercise evaluation methodology. Many interesting lessons were identified, that will help to inform the deliverable and futher development of the ECHO assets.

ECHO: Federated Schools for IT-professionals

10 August 2022 - admin

The ECHO-project hosted between November 2021 and June 2022 three federated schools (Autumn, Winter and Spring) for IT-professionals aimed at gaining a deeper knowlegde and understanding of cyber security concepts and specific sector implications. The school consisted of two parts: (1) a theoretical part, with an overview of processes, tools and systems supporting incident response and analysis and; (2) a practical part consisting of 2 exercises: collecting and processing the incident related information with the ECHO Early Warning System and restoring the ECDIS after compromising the communications leveraging the ECHO Federated Cyber Range. Enquirya and Tallin University of Technology provided the evaluation framework and methodology to assess the students learning.

ECHO: Online training available on managing IPR-rights in the project

12 December 2021 - admin

Laurea University of Applied Sciences and Enquirya have jointly developed the ECHO Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) online training aimed at deepen and ensuring ECHO partners’ knowledge on how to protect the intellectual property created during the life time of the project and raise awareness about and the IPR procedures within the project. The development was 'agile', with work sessions focused on defining learning objectives, creating content and developing an effective web-based self-learning tool. The training identifies different learning needs and purposes: general ECHO partners, project’s leaders of specific tasks and reviewers of ECHO deliverables can learn about IPR by accessing different sections of the training.

ECHO: Publication of 'Success Factors for Designing a Cybersecurity Exercise on the Example of Incident Response'

21 September 2021 - admin

Within the context of the ECHO pilot project (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for Innovation and Operations), Enquirya worked in collaboration with Taltech (Tallin University of Technology) on an article that has been presented during the 2021 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW) in conjunction with the CACOE ‘21 (Workshop on cyber range technologies and applications).

The article Success Factors for Designing a Cybersecurity Exercise on the Example of Incident Response (2021) - written by Sten Mäses (Taltech), Kaie Maennel (Taltech), Mascia Toussaint (ENQ) and Veronica Rosa (ENQ) - aimed at providing the readers with a framework of key indicators for cybersecurity exercise organisation evaluation, on the example of incident response. This study combines practical experience with crisis management and cybersecurity exercises knowledge in a 10-step guide for successfully designing CSXs.  

In addition, the Success Factors for Designing a Cybersecurity Exercise on the Example of Incident Response (2021) paper includes a checklist that presents all the actionable indicators that should be taken into account when designing a cyber exercise; this checklist can be applied to different types of exercises as it can be easily adjusted to each specific context.

If you are interested in learning more about the article Success Factors for Designing a Cybersecurity Exercise on the Example of Incident Response (2021), please contact us.

ECHO: demystifying cyber ranges

23 June 2021 - admin

The ECHO-project hosted on 2nd June 2021 the second Cyber Range Focus Group (CRFG) Ideathon, aimed at ‘Demystifying Cyber Ranges’. The CRFG coordinates the cyber range activities of the four pilot projects preparing the European Cybersecurity Competence Network and ECSO. A diverse group of 28 participants worked on two different tracks to generate ideas about the demistyfication of cyber ranges: 

  • Cyber ranges exercise technical capabilities.
  • Cyber Range Exercises Supporting Organisational Preparedness and Cyber Range Broader Adoption 

The track discussing Cyber Range Exercises Technical Capabilities discussed different aspects such as standards for cyber ranges, the enabling a systematical comparison of cyber ranges and the measurement of their quality. Participants also focused on the aspect of scoring participants and how can automation can help in building an objective scale.

The track discussing Cyber Range Exercises Supporting Organisational Preparedness and Cyber Range Broader Adoption discussed aspects such as how can cyber ranges support organisational preparedness and activities related to cyber security (e.g., validating cyber risks assessments, testing incident response plans and procedures and information security). In this context, topics like the evaluation of organisational preparedness and how to define a measuring stick were discussed. The track also explored whether cyber ranges could support incident response scenario´s that are not directly linked to information security incidents. Different end-users profiles were discussed, from technical users to non-technical users and how these profiles influence their cyber range exercising needs (e.g. incorporating social media channels feeds into the scenarios) and requirements (technical scenario´s and crisis response management scenarios). Finally, the adoption of cyber ranges was discussed and the question raised that it is not yet fully clear why organisations refrain from using cyber ranges. 

ECHO: Hackathon Facilitators Online Guide

21 June 2021 - admin

With the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Enquirya and ECHO pilot project (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for innovation and Operations) work together in order to overcome the obstacles of lockdowns and physical distance. A lot of measures have been implemented and proven to be effective in providing an enjoyable online work environment that would allow ECHO partners to achieve their goals.

Nevertheless, online event formats like Ideathon and Hackathon are novelties for the majority of workers: is there a way to help them achieve an effective online event organization? To answer this question, Enquirya came up with the ECHO Facilitators Online Guide and Code of Conduct. 

The ECHO Facilitators Online Guide teaches facilitators to:

  • stay relevant– chair the event and avoid getting off topic,
  • be effective - know how to navigate group discussion,
  • master time management – ensure that the event flows accordingly to the agenda,
  • report results – make sure that results are shareable during plenary meetings,
  • listen to all participants – ensure a fair group discussion.

The ECHO Code of Conduct will ensure that Ideathon and Hackathon attendees maintain an appropriate behaviour in terms of:

  • respect – do not offend other participants,
  • openness – ensure inclusiveness, partnership and engagement,
  • privacy – do not share personal material or information of other participants,
  • meeting etiquette – camera and microphone must be turned off and ask for the floor by using online meeting platforms’ specific functions (e.g. “hand raise” function of Microsoft Teams).

Want to know more about it? Visit www.echohack.eu

ECHO: The COVID-10 Hackers' Mind-set White Paper

25 May 2021 - admin

As all organisations, the ECHO pilot project (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for innovation and Operations) has also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic spreading globally and the subsequent lockdowns in the EU member states. One early realisation of the project partners was that with the EU-workforce starting to work remotely online, a whole new set of cybersecurity challenges would arise. An online ideathon was organised on April 6th, 2020 to discuss the COVID-19 opportunities for hackers.  

The ECHO-partners generated ideas about what specific opportunities the pandemic would offer to hackers. To do so, it discussed:

  • profiles of hackers
  • the modus operandi of the attackers
  • transversal/inter-sector issues and implementing mitigation measures 

The hackathon’s outcomes were very interesting and the attendees shared many good ideas. They were captured in a white paper ECHO publication titled 'The COVID-19 Hackers Mindset'. Moreover, the effort in providing a structured organisation for online Hackathon events makes it possible for the ECHO consortium to use the tool of the hackathon event format for other future co-creation events.

Read the full version of the The COVID-19 Hackers Mindset white paper at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/covid-19-hackers-mind-set-white-paper-echo-network-cybersecurity-centres

ECHO: Strenghtening cybersecurity

29 February 2019 - admin

On 25 February 2019 the ECHO pilot project (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for innovation and Operations) was officially launched at the Conference Hall of the Royal Military Academy of Belgium. It is one of four Pilot projects, launched by the European Commission, to establish and operate a Cybersecurity Competence Network.

Cybersecurity Pilots infographics PDFDownload

Enquirya is one of the 30 partners engaged in the project, that aims to organize and optimize the currently fragmented cybersecurity efforts across the EU. The Central Competence Hub will serve as the focal point for the ECHO Multi-sector Assessment Framework enabling multi-sector cybersecurity dependencies analysis and management including:

  • Development of cybersecurity technology roadmaps;
  • Creation of an ECHO Cybersecurity Certification Scheme aligned with ongoing EU efforts;
  • Provision of an ECHO Early Warning System;
  • Operation of an ECHO Federation of Cyber Ranges;
  • Delivery of the ECHO Cyberskills Framework, with training materials and training events;
  • Management of an expanding collection of Partner Engagements.

Want to know more? Visit the project website or email us at prospects@enquirya.com.

Gaming for Peace: Skills Passport

19 February 2019 - admin

One of the deliverables of the European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project is a skills passport. This is a complement to the serious game for peacekeepers, allowing them to enhance their soft skills needed in international peacekeeping operations.

The aim of the skills passport is to ensure that the game players are afforded a clear and measurable metric of skills standards provided (using standards linked to the EU Europass Initiative).

The intent is for this passport to be based on the principles of ECVET (European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training), which entails the transfer and recognition of skills acquired through the GAP program (alongside previous soft skills attained via deployment) to be recognised alongside formal qualifications.

Upskill Enterprise is leading this work and provided a transparent and defined outcome criteria and skills competency analysis, which has been tracked and compared against International Skills Standards, as part of a harmonisation process with European legislation. Enquirya has supported Upskill with this work, by linking the skills passport to the pre- and post-game assessment report. This means that game players now get both feedback on their progress and the measurement hereof in terms of the EQF.

Want to know more? Visit the project website or email us at prospects@enquirya.com.

Gaming for Peace: Final Conference

19 January 2019 - admin

The European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project is at its final stages. It has developed a serious game for peacekeepers, allowing them to enhance their soft skills needed in international peacekeeping operations.

On 10 and 11 January 2019, the projects’ final conference was held in Dublin, Ireland. Participants from different countries attended presentations, screenings and interactive break out parallel sessions addressing:

  • A curriculum for the Role of Police in Peacekeeping
  • Game-based Soft Skills Learning in Different Sectors
  • Culture as a resource
  • Training Needs in Contemporary Peacekeeping Missions
  • Assessment tools to improve organisational effectiveness
  • Gender: Challenges and Benefits

Enquirya held a presentation on Tracking soft skills learning at individual and organisational level and attended the break out session on Training Needs in Contemporary Peacekeeping Missions. All sessions were very interesting and some key points were noted. One is that the rephrasing of the word ‘soft skills’ in something different could attract a larger audience. Suggestions made were for instance negotiation skills or communication skills. Perception does matter when competing with other courses.

Another key point noted was that training is just one part of the solution. When looking at how persons function in an organisation, there are number of aspects to it. Training solves issues of knowledge, skills, competences and behaviour. However, other aspects such as IT-infrastructure or practical tools cannot be solved by training.

Gaming for Peace: Metrics for soft skills assessment

04 January 2019 - admin

If we look at the approaches to measure soft skills, we can identify a number of approaches. The most common approach has been to rely on a range of More Usually, these surveys consist of questions like “I can work with someone who has different opinions than mine” and are rated with Likert scales. The surveys are answered by the manager herself in most cases also by co-workers. The problem with this approach, and with measuring soft skills in general, is that people give socially desirable answers. The measurement results are as a consequence largely subjective and only partial useful.

Another approach is to have group exercises, where one or more trained evaluators score the behaviour of the participants. The risk of social desirable answers is lessened but the risk of subjectivity is still there, as the evaluation is performed by a person. Also, group dynamics are at play, affecting an objective assessment of soft skills.

The question then is whether one can have more objective measures of key soft skills. Within the European Union funded Gaming for Peace-project this question has been explored in depth. Based on this, a specific approach has been developed, geared at increasing the objectiveness of the measurement by blending existing approaches and using the power of technology.

The starting point was of course the serious game for peacekeepers, focusing on situations where specific soft skills relating to culture, gender and communication are at play. An in game assessment is foreseen, allowing to rate the behaviour of players. However, this assessment only rates the response to the game's actions and is thus limited as it does not provide a baseline and has limited capabilities to track progress.

Therefore, in the project a pre- and post-game assessment methodology has been developed. It consists of three elements:

(a) Pre-game assessment
(b) Post-game assessment
(c) Interviews by evaluators

The pre- and post-game assessment are similar, only differ in timing. One is before the game and the other is administered after the game. The assessments consist of a list of statements grouped into three areas: culture, gender and communication. The questions are statements such as 'I enjoy the opportunity of eating other police services' national cuisine'. Game players are asked to rate their agreement with these statements, based on the likhert scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree). This is done immediately before playing the game and repeated after having played the game. The order of the 70 statements is different in the pre and post assessment. Participants are asked to rate the behaviours quickly, without too much thinking.

The pre-game assessment allows to identify a baseline for the game players level of soft skills. The post-game assessment allows to identify the potential learning that has occurred by playing the game.

This learning is discussed in the interview after the post-game assessment. This interview is taken by an external evaluator and allows the game player to reflect on the game and learning points.

The advantage of this method is that it is user centric, as the game player rates behaviours. By having a substantial number of statements and by changing the order of the statements in the pre- and post-game assessment it introduces mechanisms to reduce the social desired answers. Also, it allows to measure whether some behaviours are rated differently after playing the game.

Finally, the interview with an external evaluator is also key to assess the learning. The pre- and post-game rating results are reviewed with the game player. The session is structured in a socratic way, allowing the game player to reflect on the game and explore possible behavioural response in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

Gaming for Peace: Soft skills do matter

21 December 2018 - admin

In the context of any professional organisation, be it governmental, business or NGO, soft skills are important. The optimal combination of people skills, communication skills and understanding lead to an effective and harmonious interaction. Also, it facilitates a productive, collaborative and healthy work environment.

One case in point is the tech giant Google. It has been running a multiyear research programme around the relevance of managers inside the company, called project Oxygen. It started in the early 2000s with a fundamental question raised by executives: do managers matter? It used Google's internal hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s founding in 1998. Based on data, eight key management attributes have been defined and the remarkable point is that in a tech driven company as Google, still seven of the identified key attributes are soft skills. Only one of the eight is a hard skill, i.e. STEM skills.

The seven key soft skills attributes identified are:

Being a good coach
Communication skills
Possessing insights into others and different values and points of view
Empathy toward one’s colleagues
Critical thinking
Problem solving
Drawing conclusions (making connections across complex ideas)

What is true for Google is also true for peacekeepers. In peacekeeping operations around the world, soft skills do make a difference in terms of connecting with the local population and getting things done in an international force setting.

Gaming for Peace: Lessons identified from out-game assessment

29 November 2018 - admin

The European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project is at its final stages. It has developed a serious game for peacekeepers, allowing them to enhance their soft skills needed in peacekeeping operations. Part of the game development has been the in-game and out-game assessment.  As Enquirya has been involved in development of the out-game assessment, which is now at its final stages, we will share two lessons learned from the process relating to the technical set-up.

The first one is that we learned that our approach of using a cloud-based evaluation solution, and customized it to the needs of the GAP-project did work. From the start it was clear that using pen and paper would not have been a scalable solution. We used licensed, dedicated iOS application that also works offline and has an automated reporting component. 

Users would answer the pre- and post- game questions on culture, gender and communication on the iPad. After both question sets have been answered, an automatic report is generated, with the aggregated pre- and post-game scores. This is mailed to the trainers and used as an input for the after game interview. 

The second one is that the chosen technical set-up, using anonymous usernames for individual players, has been useful to avoid at the piloting stages complex legal issues. As per May 2019 the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has entered into force, we needed to be strict on personal data. By chosing  anonymous usernames, legal issues (e.g. setting up data processor agreements) were avoided.

Gaming for Peace: Lessons identified from the Helsinki workshop

10 October 2018 - admin

The European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project aims at delivering a serious game for peacekeepers. Its core learning objective focuses on soft skills needed in peacekeeping operations. The serious game is now up and running and is been trailed in multiple workshops in several EU member states. One of these events has been the Helsinki workshop on 25-26 September 2018.

Enquirya has been present in this workshop and we learned a lot about how the game is perceived by players and what its added value is. The workshop was hosted by Laurea University, a key consortium partner. Laurea focuses on practical research and development work in selected strategic areas, among which security and has a state-of-the-art leadership to provide solutions built on tested data.

The workshop tested the game, the assessment (in-game and out-game) and the trainers materials. The participants came from three target groups involved in peacekeeping operations around the world, i.e. military, civilian and police organisations. The group was experienced and gender diverse, which allowed for some proper testing of the solution and the underlying concepts.

The main lessons learned for Enquirya was that the game does indeed deliver, even to experienced peacekeepers, who mention that the game is a complementary tool, next to the pre-deployment lectures, that can be played before the training sessions. The game is also seen as a way to incorporate lessons learned by a larger audience and turn it into a knowledge base that can be used for training.

Gaming for Peace: Developing the trainers manual

04 September 2018 - admin

The European Union H2020 funded Gaming for Peace project aims at delivering a serious game for peacekeepers. Its core learning objective focuses on soft skills needed in peacekeeping operations.

An important part of the learning environment are the trainers. The game can be played anywhere, both online from home as in an educational setting, with trainers. The latter learning environment has a slight advantage in terms of supporting the players as questions can be asked. Also, a form of blended learning can be implemented with post-game interviews and discussions.

In order to facilitate the game delivery option of trainers, the GAP consortium has trailed this in August 2018. Two key activities have been implemented, i.e. (1) developing a trainers manual and; (2) holding a train-the-trainers session, where the game and manual could be trialed. 

The manual has been drafted, guiding the trainers through the process of a guided delivery of the game. It explained the set-up of the pre and post testing (questionnaires and interview), developed trainers materials such as introductory powerpoint, informed consent forms, the working of the iPads and day-programmes. It also includes reference materials.

The train-the-trainers workshop was held in Dublin in August 2018 and allowed to test the game and the trainers materials. Important lessons were learned, which allowed a further finetuning of the eductational materials and the game. These will be incorporated in a second version of the trainers manual, the game development and the skills assessment methodologies.

Gaming for Peace: Developing the in- and out-game assessment

23 April 2018 - admin

The H2020 funded Gaming for Peace-project enters now a more mature stage, where all components that have been created over the past years are tied together into a coherent product, i.e. the serious game for peacekeepers. Key in understanding whether the GAP-application delivers in terms of operational suitability, functionality, content, usability and user experience are the evaluation activities.

Over the past months the Consortium has been working on developing the evaluation methodology for out-of-game assessment. This specific assessment is done before and after the game, with the game players. It consists of an individual unconscious bias-test and a questionnaire on gender, communication and culture, in which soft skills are broken down into categories (competencies) reflecting the learning objectives. Rating is via the Likhert Scale. 

One key issues encountered in the development hereof is the scalability of this out-of-game evaluation, in terms of both content (number of indicators and analyses) and in terms of deployment (how to reach the users). The current set-up is pen and paper, and this can become challenging when having three sets of questionnaires for ten users. The follow-up in terms of analysing the responses and tracking learning becomes a burden for a trainer and organisation. Also, it is error prone and does not allow aggregated analyses. 

Usually, this administrative burden leads to just a few indicators being pushed, as trainers feel overwhelmed. The consequence hereof is that it will not give that granular insight in the achievement of the learning objectives that trainees, trainers and organisations require.

One key improvement the consortium want to test in the coming months is whether this out-of-game assessment can be digitized. The idea is to support the trainers in the methodology workshops with a data-collection application, that works on iPads and in browers. It will push the unconscious bias-tests and soft skills questionnaires before and after the game, enabling to measure the achievement of learning objectives. Together with the in-game assessment, this will be a powerful tool to understand how the trainee is progressing.  

To achieve this result, a significant amount of work has been done and still has to be done. Currently, the first iteration of the questions have been digitised and a demo set-up has been produced, that has been field tested in May 2018 in Finland. The participants feedback has been very positive and informs the next steps, which will be refining the question set and preparing it for aggregated analysis, preparing the trainers guidelines and defining the analytical needs of trainers.  

Gaming for Peace: Interaction between game and content

27 January 2018 - admin

The Gaming for Peace (GAP)-project, funded by the European Commission H2020 programme, will deliver a serious game, allowing personnel to role-play someone of a different gender or ethnicity or who is part of a different type of organisation. This will lead to greater understanding, better communication and cooperation, and more optimal performance as peace builders.

The game allows users to experience simulations of challenging scenarios from conflict and peace building missions to learn communication and cooperation, gender awareness and cultural competency skills. Entering the game as avatars, players will role play as a member of another organisation, a different gender or nationality, and so will experience a variety of conflict-zone scenarios from a range of different perspectives.

One challenge is to have an optimal interaction between the game delivery and the content of the game. The quality of the game from both an immersion/engagement point of view is intimately linked to its quality as a learning tool and the achievement of learning outcomes, and all are dependent on the inter- action design of the interface.

In the coming months the user’s impressions of and reactions to the content of the game including the characters, dialogue (script), scenarios, scenery, graphics and audio aspects will be researched. Key points are how various interaction elements can be improved to make the game’s narrative more understandable and the content more relatable in terms of tactical situations encountered and the potential for learning new skills.

Ultimately, the consortium aims at delivering a serious game that is found to be engaging, enjoyable and at the same time delivering the pre-defined learning outcomes.

Interested in learning more about the GAP-project? Visit the GAP-website.

CSDP and the future European Research Agenda

13 June 2018 - admin

The Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme defined in 2014 funding for research in the field of conflict prevention and peace building. One of the three projects selected for funding has been the IECEU-project, aimed at researching the effectiveness of military and civilian crisis management operations (CMO’s) implemented within the framework of the European Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).

Over a time span of 33 months, the IECEU-project reviewed 8 case studies in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia have been reviewed, covering 12 CSDP crisis management operations (see table 1.1 below). Additionally, research has been implemented within the EU’s institutions to review the effectiveness of the concepts pooling and sharing, civilian-military synergies and interoperability. This research has led to valuable insights on the effectiveness of CSDP CMO’s as well as underlined the importance of research in this area, that is still can benefit from a larger academic and practitioners attention.

This is why one of the final reports of the IECEU-project does look into the future research agenda in the new multi-annual financial framework and, based on the 33-month research, identifies five main areas in the broader framework of CFSP and CSDP that could benefit from additional analytical research.

It makes the point that sufficient funding is necessary for fundamental and applied research on external security and defence, as it results to inform policy- and decision-making and enables sound decision making. As of end 2016, the debate started on the future of EU-finances, with the aim to tackle the tough challenge to fund more with less. The discussion is closely linked to the white paper on the future of Europe and will inform the next multi-annual financial framework (MMF) 2020 – 2027. However, the prospects for research spending are not that good, if the mid-term review of the current MMF 2014-2020 can be seen as an indication of the levels of spending. Spending on “unanticipated funding needs” such as securing borders and tackling the migration crisis are prioritized over long-term programmes such as research. From a political short-term point of view, this makes sense. However, the question is whether this is, in the long run, a good solution. Research has a fundamental role in boosting growth, informing better policy making and effectiveness.

In any case, the research area of European foreign security and defence policy has a number of challenges for those engaged in this exercise. Next, to the regular challenges associated with research, there are additional challenges such as access to a highly politicised environment and the geographical and security dimension of researching missions in areas that are unsafe. However, research is next to evaluation and quality assurance, key elements for a mature learning culture, as it supports fundamental understanding of what is happening, why, how and relates it to enriched understanding, from which politicians, civil servants, advocates and the general public can greatly benefit.

As each discipline has its distinctive way of creating contributions that inform debate and policy, research in the area of European foreign security and defence policy is not about predicting the future, but delivering an in-depth understanding of the past and current mechanisms and dynamics at play, by applying rigorous theoretical and empirical care and knowledge of scholarly literature. Implementing this type of research in a multinational consortium, where different methods and views meet and challenge each other leads to even better results than in national projects and funding. This meeting of the minds at European level is the main added value of the Horizon 2020 funding, supporting cross-border scientific cooperation and the cross-fertilization of ideas.

The final Work Programme for Horizon 2020, covering the budgetary years 2018, 2019 and 2020, has been recently launched. It's priority area ‘Societal Challenge 6: 'Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies' (SC6) will include funding for the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy and the expanding scope of the EU's external engagement. From the experience of running a 33-month research into the effectiveness CSDP, six main areas can be identified that could benefit from additional analytical research. These areas are:

  • Conflict prevention and complexity strategies including mechanisms, opportunities, contextual possibilities and analysis of how EUs toolbox can be more effectively used in complex scenarios of conflict prevention.
  • Linking threat scenarios with internal and external capabilities-building and the integrated approach. The key point to be addressed should be what capabilities are needed for the defined scenarios. Scenarios should include the rise of technology and non-state actors as well as new types of threats and challenges, such as cyber and migration.
  • Local ownership and how CSDP is perceived by the local community (visibility of the action, effectiveness in terms of conflict prevention).
  • Electorate ownership and how is CSDP perceived by public opinion in member states in terms of acceptance and further integration.
  • Evaluation methods and mechanisms to measure the effectiveness of the integrated approach and evaluation toolboxes.
  • Standardization of EU crisis management operations SOP’s, training and exercise systems, capabilities, equipment and support platforms.

The report can be downloaded soon from the IECEU-website here.

Enhancing the effectiveness of the CSDP 

26 January 2018 - admin

The Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme defined in 2014 funding for research in the field of conflict prevention and peace building. One of the three projects selected for funding has been the IECEU-project, aimed at researching the effectiveness of military and civilian crisis management operations (CMO’s) implemented within the framework of the European Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).

The IECEU-research has been based on a conceptual framework, that both defined for CSDP crisis management operations six core capabilities (planning, operational, interoperability, competences, comprehensiveness and technology) as well as effectiveness.  Over a time span of 33 months, 8 case studies in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia have been reviewed, covering 12 CSDP crisis management operations. Additionally, research has been implemented within the EU’s institutions to review the effectiveness of the concepts pooling and sharing, civilian-military synergies and interoperability. This research has led to valuable insights on the effectiveness of CSDP CMO’s.

Now, at the start of 2018, this research is now at its final stages, with the delivery end of 2017 of the study on new approaches. This study combines all research efforts and translates them into findings and recommendations. The findings have been discussed in policy dialogues and meetings with stakeholders from member states, EU-institutions, international organisations and international NGO’s and reviewed and tested with desk research, online polls, panel meetings and interviews with key external stakeholders.

Key point of the researchers findings is that in order to have a real breakthrough in enhancing the effectiveness of CSDP crisis management operations, it is necessary to start thinking of the future of EU crisis management and conflict prevention out of the box. Two scenario's are provided for the future development of EU action, i.e. (1) status quo plus and (2) supranational CSDP.

In addition, the researchers also call for the implementation of a mature evaluation system in order to make sure that lessons identified and learnt are also properly implemented in the phase of planning new missions and operations and that a loss of institutional memory due to the rotation cycles of mission staff can be avoided.

The report can be downloaded soon from the IECEU-website here.

Evaluating web based learning applications

06 January 2018 - admin

Enquirya's core expertise is the systematic assessment of policies, procedures and training system in conjunction with the automation of evaluation processes. One of the many things we do is to support the evaluation of online learning applications. Our broad experience with designing and implementing user-centric interface design, information security and architecture comes in handy when evaluating these types of applications.

Recently we have worked together with the Centre for European Perspective (CEP) to evaluate the ‘New Media Learning Application’, created in the framework of the European IECEU-project (read more here). This project is financed by the European Commission in the framework of the H2020 research programme and analyses 12 EU crisis-management-operations in Europe, Africa, Middle-East en Far-East in terms of internal and external effectiveness. It also researched in what ways civil-military synergies can be achieved and how member states kan improve interoperability in the field of CSDP capabilities.

The goal of the New Media Learning Application is to offer the IECEU-research findings in a different format that paper, i.e. in the format of on an online-learning application, that is cloud-based and accessible to everyone. Part of the implementation methodology is also to evaluate the usability of this application. Two types of evaluations are implemented: (a) measuring the learning outcomes and; (b) measuring the user-experience with the application.

Enquirya supported this process with its experience in measuring the user-experience. We helped to define the evaluation criteria for user-experience, based on international standards for usability (application design). We also supported the implementation of the evaluation by using different analytical tools, among which google analytics and 'heat-maps' to analyse how users interact with the different web-pages of the online learning application.

In January 2018 the evaluation has been finalised and soon report can be downloaded from the IECEU-website.

Interoperability in CSDP - the third state dimension

04 August 2017 - admin

The analyses of the effectiveness of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) crisis management operations, implemented by the IECEU-project, also researched interoperability through extensive desk research and field research with eight case studies in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia, covering 15 CSDP crisis management missions. One aspect that was reviewed was the third state dimension in interoperability.

Crisis management operations under the flag of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) often happen in complex environments, where the EU is not the sole actor on the ground.  Third states, international organisations and NGO’s are also operating in conflict areas, with their own mandates and interests, that might differ from the EU’s mandates and interests.

There are a number of tools to streamline the actions of these actors on the ground, and one of them will be discussed in this blog, i.e. the Framework Participation Agreement (FPA). This tool allows a non-EU member state that wishes to contribute and participate in the CSDP crisis mangement operation to actually do that.

By signing the Framework Participation Agreement (FPA) with the EU, a legal and political basis for such cooperation is provided. The European External Action Service is the one who leads the negotiations after receiving its mandate from the Council, who keeps the final say. A template has been agreed at PSC level, that is in-turn negotiated with the third state.  Generally speaking, the FPA includes provisions on participation in both civilian and military crisis missions/operations (e.g. regulating the personnel, chain of command, financial aspects and agreements regarding the status of personnel and information sharing etc.).

There are multiple reasons to support third state involvement with a FPA. One is that it can bring capacity that the CSDP-crisis management operation lacks. Another one is that such an involvement brings legitimacy as by involving non-EU member states in the crisis management operation, the operationt gains a broader  acceptance in the international community.

However, at the same time the FPA adds an additional dimension to the interoperability i.e. that of third countries personnel and equipment being interoperable with EU-personnel and equipment in CSDP missions and operations.

One critical issue found in the IECEU-study on interoperability is that third states are not involved throughout the planning level, i.e. establishing the EU crisis management mission and its subsequent amendments and the Operation Plan (OPLAN). They are only involved in the process of establishing the mission only in only at a later phase, so they do not have important impact on the decision making process. This might affect interoperability, as at planning stage specific standard operating procedures or requirements of third states are not taken into account.

Another critical issue identified is that the challenges related to interoperability of troops contributed by the third states are similar to those of the multinational forces in general including the cultural and language barriers, doctrinal differences and technological differences.

Tackling these interoperability challenges at operational level and better incorporating third states in CSDP crisis management operations is important as it has economic benefits, force generation benefits and gives political legitimacy. Especially, the political aspects of such cooperation should not be overlooked as having third states participating in CSDP crisis management operations does give a stronger credibility and legitimacy to the EU CSDP missions and operations.

The recommendation of the IECEU-project is to strengthen third country participation in CSDP crisis management operations by including them in the early planning stages and develop standard operating procedures that address doctrinal, procedural and technological differences and interoperability issues.

Interested in learning more? Please contact us.

The EUCSDP needs a 'continent' of pooling and sharing

04 July 2017 - admin

The analyses of the effectiveness of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) - crisis management operations, implemented by the IECEU-project, also researched the current initiatives of pooling and sharing of capabilities (P&S) and how it is perceived at mission level. Firstly, an extensive desk research has been conducted, to uncover what initiatives are ongoing at EU-level and national level. It was followed by eight case studies in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia have been reviewed, covering 15 CSDP crisis management missions.

The results of this research are listed in the study '6.1 Standardisation Review', that looked at training initiatives, common procurement initiatives as well as how P&S is perceived at mission/operation level. Three standardised questions were asked in all 15 researched CSDP crisis management operations (of which ten are civilian and five are military):

(1) whether when establishing the mission pooling and sharing had been considered;

(2) how did the pooling and sharing work in the field; was it considered, and;

(3) were there existing practices of pooling and sharing (if any).

At statistical level, 8 out of 15 crisis management operations have recorded findings in terms of pooling and sharing. However, six of these operations reported there was no P&S activities, which means that there are only two positive findings for P&S at crisis management operations level. More specifically, the two recorded positive findings for practices of P&S are for the CSDP-missions EUFOR RCA and EULEX Kosovo.

In terms of what is pooled and shared, both crisis management operations display different results. EUFOR RCA pooled and shared airlift capacity, which makes sense as it is a scarce and expensive resource. The EULEX Kosovo mission shows more complex findings for pooling and sharing, as it mentioned different points, such as transfer of staff, mission support, standard operating procedures and sharing / joint use of resources. This could be partly explained by the length of the mission (9 years), giving more time to develop pooling and sharing initiatives.

These results have to be taken with caution, as factors such as timeframe (P&S was developed from 2010 onwards and thus does not fully apply to missions and operations that had been launched before that date) and links with the planning level (P&S at operations level depends on a large scale on previous planning and capability development. If there is already little pooling and sharing at those levels, it logically drops down to mission level).

The findings of P&S were discussed during an IECEU-policy dialogue held on 27 March 2017, in Brussels, with relevant stakeholders of EU institutions, member states, NGOs and academia. During the debate, the warning was expressed that pooling and sharing is not only about financial (saving) aspects, but also about what is available. Member states can only pool and share what they do have. Pooling and sharing is thus not replacing non-existing capabilities.

The discussion further on uncovered that much has been done in the military domain by projects led by European Defence Agency, however, it seems that the current trend is focusing on many small initiatives but lacking an overall approach. A broader understanding of the added value of joining forces and working stronger together among EU member states could be beneficial. To put it more strongly, there is a need for a continent of Pooling and Sharing and not many little islands of Pooling and Sharing in the European Union.

Interested? Contact us to know more.

Enquirya and the 2016 Emergency Services Show (UK)

23 September 2016 - admin

Over the past 2 days Enquirya joined CFOA National Resilience (CNR) at their stand at the 2016 Birmingham Emergencies Services Show to give live demos of our evaluation software platform. It has been a great experience and privilege to interact with emergency response chiefs and quality assurers and talking about data driven decision making.

We learned a lot about quality assurance and the way lessons are identified as well as what analysis are relevant for fire rescue services. What struck us is that there are a lot of similarities between fire services around the world.

Last but not least, we thank our friends from CNR warmly. Two days at a trade show can be quite demanding, but together we had a great time and really enjoyed it.

Gaming for peace kick-off meeting

9 September 2016 - admin

On 8 september 2016, Enquirya attended the kick off meeting of the GAP project in Dublin. As partner to this project funded by the European Commission under the H2020 programme, we will actively participate in developing a new virtual reality game to train international military and police in peacekeeping skills such as communication, cultural sensitivity and gender awareness.

The ‘Gaming for Peace’ tool will allow personnel to role-play someone of a different gender or ethnicity or who is part of a different type of organisation, leading to greater understanding, better communication and cooperation, and more optimal performance as peacebuilders.

The game will allow users to experience simulations of challenging scenarios from conflict and peacebuilding missions to learn communication and cooperation, gender awareness and cultural competency skills. Entering the game as avatars, players will roleplay as a member of another organisation, a different gender or nationality, and so will experience a variety of conflict zone scenarios from a range of different perspectives.

Enquirya is contributing to the development of this tool in a number of areas, such as:

  • Demand Analysis & Horizon Planning (undertaking an assessment of issues at play current and potential flashpoints in terms of future conflict generating scenarios which may necessitate action on the part of stakeholders);
  • Assessments metrics; and;
  • Ensuring that the skill set developed is in line with international law.

See the projects' website.

Interoperability in CSDP missions and operations

6 July 2016 - admin

Within the framework of the EU funded IECEU-project  that Enquirya participates in, research and evaluation is done to look at ways to increase the effectiveness of CSDP missions and operations. Over the next months, we will work, along with our consortium partners, on the concept of interoperability in CSDP missions and operations.

Interoperability is defined in 2001 by the Council (Document 13307/01) and we look forward to research what standards there are in the field, compare CSDP missions and operations to better understand what interoperability challenges exist and, if possible, identify findings that can enhance the potential for interoperability. The analysis will performed with the mission life cycle in mind (pre-deployment, deployment, exit and evaluation).

Interested in learning more? Please contact us.

Interoperability in CSDP missions and operations

25 June 2016 - admin

In the EU funded IECEU-project, the consortium which includes Enquirya, aims to increase the effectiveness of CSDP missions and operations. Over the past months, we worked, along with our consortium partners on defining the state of art of pooling and sharing of resources in the framework of CSDP missions and operations. Part of the work has been to better understand how pooling and sharing works with capabilities, such as the medical capabilities (medevac).

Therefore, we joined the EDA-workshop and the plenary sessions of the Symposium “Medical Support to EU Common Security and Policy (CSDP) Operations”, held in Rome Innovation from 7 to 9 June 2016.  Speakers included representatives from EEAS, EUMS, European Commission, NATO and UN. The discussions were of a very high level and a lot of knowledge was shared. The discussions helped us better understand how pooling and sharing works and have been instrumental in enhancing the quality of the deliverable on the state of art of pooling and sharing.

The next step now is to finalise the deliverable before the end of June 2016. Once it has been approved by the European Commission, we are happy to share its findings with you!

Interested in learning more? Please contact us.

Supporting the EUCP Modules Exercise Evaluation 2016-2017 with Laurea

6 June 2016 - admin

At Enquirya we are all very exited about the start of the EUCP Modules Exercise Evaluation 2016/2017. Will be supporting the main contractor, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, with our evaluation technology.

The EUCP Modules Exercise Evaluation covers the evaluation of 14 exercises, 5 table top exercises and 9 field exercises across Europe. The evaluation aims to evaluate how the exercise objectives were achieved. Moreover according to evaluation findings, the aim is to recommend further improvement of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism operations. Based on evidence/the data gathering, the evaluators formulate their findings. Key to the approach are these five elements: standards, analysis/synthesis, interpretation, judgment and recommendations.

Find out more by visiting the projects' website.

Supporting the EUCP Modules Exercise Evaluation 2016-2017 with Laurea

27 May 2015 - admin

As of May 2015, the IECEU-project has started, funded by the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 and aimed at Improving the Effectiveness of Capabilities in EU conflict prevention.  Enquirya is proud to be one of the partners in the multinational consortium, lead by the Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland).

The consortium consists of a diverse group of civilian, research and military organisations, reflecting the diversity within the EU and EU missions. The overall goal of the project is to find out new approaches and solutions to respond the future challenges and threats in terms of conflict prevention, crisis management and peacebuilding capabilities of EU.

In a timeframe of 33 months the multinational team of 11 partners from 7 different countries (Finland, Denmark, Slovenia, Ireland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium) will analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of missions in three selected, case study areas, where Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) activities are represented.

The case study areas are the Balkans, Africa, Middle East and Asia. Such comprehensive analysis and evaluations of current external actions can provide better answers to creating more effective missions.

The project will identify the best practices and develop new approaches and solutions as well as to strengthen cooperation between different actors in the operational context and provide recommendations.

Supporting the EUCP Modules Exercise Evaluation 2016-2017 with Laurea

20 May 2015 - admin

In disaster response, both at national and international level, on-site coordination is key for an effective response. But what makes a good on-site coordination? At Enquirya we have been analyzing both national and international approaches.

In the case of international disaster response, there are standards set by the UN for INSARAG-teams. The IEC Checklist (link) defines a number of evaluation questions for on-site coordination in heading 11 (RDC and OSOCC Coordination and Planning):

  • Does the USAR team have trained staff and dedicated equipment to establish and operate a provisional Reception and DC and On-Site Operation Coordination Centre in accordance with the OSOCC Guidelines?
  • Does the USAR team undertake assessments and disseminate the information to the OSOCC and LEMA?
  • Does the USAR team ensure a representative is present at the OSOCC during USAR coordination meetings?
  • Does the USAR team’s medical management coordinate activities with relevant local health authorities?
  • Does the USAR team management exercise a continuous command and control system over the full range of his/her sites of operation?

Key to these questions are the ability to run an coordination centre, sharing of information, presence at meetings, coordination with local stakeholders and command & control on operations.

At national level, we found that in the case of disaster response:

  1. Similar evaluation questions are asked, but these are often much more detailed and;
  2. Additional evaluation questions are asked on the decision making process, on information management and unpartisan leadership.

Usually, this prompts the questions why at national level the questions seem to be more detailed or why they are not at international level. However, prompts in response a non-productive discussion about international politics, that does not lead anywhere.

Nato's 2015 EARDCC consequence management field exercise in Ukraine

12 May 2015 - admin

NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) and the State Emergency Service (SES) of Ukraine will host an international exercise on 21-25 September 2015. The consequence management activities on the ground will be based on a technological disaster scenario which will also affect the civil population and critical infrastructure elements in the exercise area.

The exercise is an opportunity to enhance international cooperation and test some key NATO Civil Emergency Planning policies and agreements:

  • The Checklist and Non-Binding Guidelines for the Request, Reception and Provision of International Assistance in the event of a CBRN Incident or Natural Disaster
  • The Model Technical Arrangement on the Liability of Relief Personnel (2014)

Part of the exercise is also exercise evaluation, however these reports are not public.

Read updates and more on NATO's website

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