Imperial Policy Forum supports publication of papers providing insight into key science and policy issues
Urban ecosystems and deep tech long-reads
Rapid urbanisation presents possibly the biggest challenge for dealing with climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss – but also a unique opportunity to create a more sustainable future.
Here, leading environmental and urban researchers from Imperial College London share their reflections on the centrality of cities to the human story and how their evolution holds the key to adapting to a changing climate.
'Truly, Madly, Deeply' - Imperial & Deep Tech
Deep Tech has the potential to solve some of society’s biggest problems… climate change, food and water insecurity, antimicrobial resistance, and the need for continual medical advances. These are just some of the ones we know about. Solutions derived from Deep Tech today could meet a myriad of needs in the future. This piece, written to coincide with the launch of Imperial's Institute of Deep Tech Entrepreneurship in September 2022, explores how Deep Tech differs from traditional innovation, and how we can maximise the opportunities it provides.
Navigating degrees of uncertainty
Scientific evidence plays an important role in informing policy decisions. This report combines senior scientists’ advice on communicating uncertainty and advising policymakers, gathered during the Institute’s ‘Science Communication to Policymakers’ workshop, and interviews with senior policy academics, to produce guidance on science advice in climates of uncertainty.
Where next? Uncertainty in transport's path to net zero
The UK government is legally committed to reaching net zero by 2050. This overriding imperative to respond to the climate emergency is driving action across sectors and shaping the future of transport. To understand the key drivers of this uncertainty on the path to net zero, this briefing consists of insights of people working across the transport and energy sectors, with an interest in reducing emissions from everyday journeys.
A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel
Imperial Policy Forum and the ‘Transition to Zero Pollution’ initiative sponsored a roundtable and report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on zero-pollution transport. The report, All Aboard: A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel, was published in June 2021. It outlines a vision for a transport system that is fair to all, works to improve people’s health and wellbeing and provides a better environment for nature. It cites Imperial academics Professor Mary Ryan, Professor Robert Shorten and Dr Audrey de Nazelle.
Algorithmic transparency in the public sector
Public sector organisations in the UK and abroad have increasingly made use of algorithms to assist in decision making. However, concerns exist that the use of algorithms to make complex, high-impact decisions – such as eligibility for benefit payments or social housing – may lead to unfair outcomes and reinforce existing biases. Imperial Policy Forum and the think tank Reform organised a policy hackathon on ‘Algorithmic transparency in the public sector’, and this report brings together the ideas generated at the event to help solve some of the difficult policy challenges.
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This long-read article introduces the ‘Imperial-X’ initiative, a major cross-College project bringing together expertise in emerging and disruptive technologies like AI, machine learning, advanced robotics and augmented/virtual reality. Hear from Imperial-X Co-Director Professor Eric Yeatman on Imperial-X’s mission, including technology ‘moonshots’ and supporting innovative startups. The research and innovation agenda of I-X relates to the ‘Transformative technologies’ theme of IPF’s work programme.
Pollution and Poverty
This long-read article, prepared in partnership with the College’s ‘Transition to Zero Pollution’ initiative, explores the links between two of the greatest policy challenges facing society. Imperial College London researchers, including Professors Mary Ryan, Robert Shorten and Frank Kelly, discuss how environmental and economic inequalities are linked. This piece investigates issues like travel, air quality, and environmental equity, showing how research here at Imperial College London is offering new insights into these areas.
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Imagine a zero waste society – what’s stopping us?
Researchers and start-ups are making great strides towards creating a circular economy; but if we are to completely eliminate waste it will require radical system-wide solutions. This feature article asks leading Imperial College London researcher including Professor Chris Cheeseman and Dr Elena Dieckmann to reflect on how we can make the transition to a zero-waste economy. This research contributes to Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Zero pollution’ theme.
AI for healthcare
This long-read article explores the proliferating possibilities for the use of AI to enhance and improve healthcare services. New developments such as the use of algorithms to pool clinical experience, cardiac imaging and detecting brain tumour changes offer both opportunities for improvements in health outcomes and challenges for the regulatory bodies tasked with setting the rules of the road. Hear from Professors Aldo Faisal, Daniel Rueckert, Dr Ben Glocker and other experts linked to the College’s AI research agenda.
The use of evidence in government and Parliament
Imperial Policy Forum and the Institute for Government produced a short report on the use of scientific evidence in government and Parliament, informed by two expert roundtables in autumn 2020. Recommendations included clarity over responsibility for evidence use in departments and more proactive identification of weaknesses in the evidence underlying policy. Insights into the provision of effective science advice to government underpin the IPF theme area of ‘science-policy interface’.
Realising smart regulation in healthcare
Imperial Policy Forum and the public services think tank Reform hosted a policy hackathon on realising smart regulation in healthcare in July 2020. The event featured Professor Aldo Faisal from Imperial College London and included Dr Indra Josh, Director of AI for NHSX. This report identifies four policy ‘challenges’ facing regulators in the sector and policy makes recommendations for each. Smarter regulation in the healthcare sector is a key element of IPF’s ‘Health’ theme.
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Two intersecting pandemics
Imperial College London researchers discuss the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the existing impacts of structural racism and social inequalities into sharper relief. This long-read article looks at the disproportionately severe effects of COVID on ethnic minority groups and how policymakers should address those discrepancies. This work sits under Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Health’ theme.
Social media and online harms
How can we protect young and vulnerable people in an increasingly online world? This long-read article addresses questions of digital technology, design psychology and the psychiatric impacts of social media for children and young people. Elements of this work sit under both the ‘Transformative technologies’ and ‘Health’ themes of IPF’s work.
Modelling an unprecedented pandemic
This Imperial Policy Forum feature explores the vital role of team-based, collaborative epidemiology and disease modelling in managing pandemics. Experts including Professors Neil Ferguson and Azra Ghani reflect on the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic and the steps we need to take to build capacity and confidence in future modelling. This work is linked to IPF’s ‘Health’ theme.
Pandemics and privacy
This feature article, written just as the UK was emerging from the first COVID-19 lockdown, looked at the privacy implications and policy challenges associated with contact tracing technology. Featuring analysis from Dr Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye and Professor Esther Rodriguez-Villegas. Learn more about the privacy and public confidence issues that form a key part of Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Transformative technologies’ theme.
Fighting an epidemic of misinformation
The coronavirus pandemic has also seen an explosion in the use of misinformation, particularly conspiracy theories and their dissemination across online platforms. This piece, with contributions from Professor Helen Ward, Dr David Nabarro and Dr Ajay Gambhir looks at the UK’s initial coronavirus response and the subsequent development of COVID-19 misinformation. This work also relates to the Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Health’ theme.
Transition to zero pollution
Professor Mary Ryan and colleagues from both the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Imperial College London ‘Transition to Zero Pollution’ initiative explore the latest environmental research, innovative startups, and policy thinking from across the College’s base of expertise. Learn about the challenges of siloed approaches, our future leadership and planning opportunities, and new zero pollution industries. This work also falls under Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Zero pollution’ theme.
AI and the future of work
How will Artificial Intelligence affect the jobs of the future? This short report based on interviews with leading researchers examines questions of automation, augmentation, the impact of AI on the workplace and ethical considerations. It concludes with a series of policy responses to guide policymakers and regulatory bodies tasked with building the guardrails for the involvement of AI in the wider economy. This report fits within the ‘Transformative technologies’ theme of the IPF’s work programme.
What is the future for vaccinations? This report, written before the COVID-19 pandemic, discusses issues relating to the future of vaccination. Many of the questions raised – such as vaccine hesitancy, storage and transport, non-communicable diseases and anti-microbial resistance – remain pressing policy challenges in the post-COVID world. This area of research sits within Imperial Policy Forum’s ‘Health’ theme.
A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel
The Forum and Transition to Zero Pollution initiative sponsored a roundtable and report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on zero-pollution transport. The report, All Aboard: A plan for fairly decarbonising how people travel, was published in June 2021. It outlines a vision for a transport system that is fair to all, works to improve people’s health and wellbeing and provides a better environment for nature. It cites Imperial academics Professor Mary Ryan, Professor Robert Shorten and Dr Audrey de Nazelle.
Algorithmic transparency in the public sector
In recent years, public sector organisations in the UK and abroad have increasingly made use of algorithms to assist in decision making. However, concerns exist that the use of algorithms to make complex, high-impact decisions – such as eligibility for benefit payments or social housing – may lead to unfair outcomes and reinforce existing biases. The Forum and the think tank Reform organised a policy hackathon on ‘Algorithmic transparency in the public sector’, and this write up brings together the ideas generated at the event to help solve some of the difficult policy challenges.