Canada Research Chair in Information Law,
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Municipal police services in North America now commonly make digital crime maps available to the public online. These interactive maps allow individuals to choose a particular part of their city, as well as a window of time (crimes in the last 7, 14 or 21 days, for example). They can search for all mapped crimes in this time frame or can limit their search to particular types of crime. The results are returned in the form of icons on a map of the selected area. The icons represent different categories of criminal activity, and clicking on each icon will reveal basic information about the incident.
Core member, ISSP
Professor, School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa
Some of my colleagues and I take the old bingo-game approach to conferences: a point awarded for every mention of ‘paradigm shift,’ ‘disruptive,’ or ‘game changer.’ We can be rather smug about perceived naivety on the part of colleagues working in discovery-oriented research. We are also chronically irritated by the ongoing hype about genomics research, which is almost never lived up to. But I may have to shake off this jaded view of the world; it really does look like we have something genuinely exciting in the newest gene-editing techniques. CRISPR-Cas9 is not the first, but it is easy; so much so that the Nuffield Council on Bioethics warns about ‘garage scientists’ paying less than $200 to add it to their DIY toolkit. So, we have a technology which seems to work, is easy to use, and may be very affordable. No problems?
Core member, ISSP
Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa
Last month, I participated in a workshop where experts and practitioners representing different academic disciplines and policy fields came together to explore issues related to risk management and evidence-based decision-making. I left the meeting with two thoughts percolating in my head: We are, indeed, inhabitants of what German sociologist Ulrich Beck coined a ‘‘risk society.” And, to my dismay, we are yet to have a meeting of minds between the fact-based scientists/experts and the value-based public.
Former Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, ISSP
President and CEO, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET)
It may be inevitable that policy communities tend to be pre-occupied with the past. It is not because they lack intelligence or dedication. One reason certainly lies in their falling victim to the Fallacy of the New Normal. We look back and see dramatic change in just a few years, and we see a curve that keeps getting steeper as it rises toward today. But a survival instinct of the human mind – understandable, but potentially fatal - prevents us from looking ahead and expecting the process to continue. We kink the curve. We flatten it. We work on the assumption that today’s “new normal” is our starting-point, and the working principle that while there is change ahead it will be far less dramatic than that of past years. Of course, in the cases of political leaders and the policy community that sustains them, there is accountability to the people. And, among the people, the same tendency is clear, and may be more pronounced.
Senior Research Associate, Research Director, ISSP
ISSP’s series of panels on the new federal government’s commitment to evidence-based decision-making have stressed that scientific advice is an essential basis for good policy decisions. There is a recognition, of course, that science advice cannot determine policy. There are other factors and tradeoffs that enter into decision making. Public policy undoubtedly requires politics. Yet, I am interested in a different aspect touched on by speakers from the latest panel - what is needed to ensure that scientific evidence remains credible?
Pandemics are far from new in the history of science fiction. Which is why familiar novels such as The Stand (1978) by Stephen King and movies such as Contagion (2011) by Steven Soderbergh were sought as references when lockdowns began.