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Top 10 Benelux IT stories of 2022

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 Benelux articles of 2022

Dutch universities are known the world over for their academic research in IT fields, and in this review of Benelux IT articles from 2022, we take a look at two examples.

A PhD project at the Netherlands Forensics Institute (NFI) is part of a project, known as Uncover, to help law enforcement agencies intercept digital messages sent by criminals but hidden in images. This technique is known as steganography, and is the next big thing for criminal gangs trying to find ways of keeping their communications secret.

Students at the Eindhoven University of Technology are working on a project that will eventually allow cargo drones to have their batteries changed mid-flight. This will help overcome the challenge that drones currently have, which is their inability to fly long distances without having to stop to have their batteries changed.

In Luxembourg, the government is working on projects to use technology to improve the services they offer citizens. The country’s Ministry for Digitalisation and the Government IT Centre are responsible for the developments.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 Benelux IT stories of 2022.

1. Dutch PhD project aims to automate discovery and deciphering of steganography

The Netherlands Forensics Institute is part of Uncover, a project aiming to help law enforcement agencies track criminal digital messaging.

Since the encrypted communication network EncroChat was dismantled, criminals have been searching for new ways to communicate secretly. One of the means they were already using, but is now expected to increase, according to the European Commission, is steganography.

2. Dutch student team aims to enable uninterrupted drone cargo delivery

Air transport without fossil fuel still has a major drawback – electric planes don’t get very far. Transporting goods by drone can circumvent that problem if you use a network in which drones fly from depot to depot to change batteries.  

Two student drone teams of the Eindhoven University of Technology – Blue Jay and Syfly – have joined forces to develop this innovation under the name of Aero Team Eindhoven

3. Luxembourg taps into innovation for better government tech

In Luxembourg, government technology (govtech) is defined as technology that improves government services by facilitating collaboration among ministries – and by making it easier for citizens and businesses to interact with public administrations.

Computer Weekly spoke with some of the people responsible for developing govtech offerings in Luxembourg.

4. Interview: Success in Belgium’s high-tech job market

Amrop is an executive search company active in about 54 countries, and Benoit Lison, a managing partner based in Belgium, works in the firm’s global digital practice group.

His focus is on recruiting chief digital officers, chief technology officers, IT directors and chief security officers. “We work on all these roles, and more, but always the number-one or number-two positions in a company,” he says.

5. Digital transformation is brewing at Heineken 

The mission of Heineken’s “digital and technology” department is to provide “data at our fingertips”, according to Elizabeth Osta, the company’s director of data management. The hope is for employees, partners and customers to have easy access to the data they need – within policy and regulatory frameworks, of course.

Osta’s job is to ensure that data is of good quality, that it is consistent, and that it is in a standard format. She provides data governance, which will allow the company to meet its objectives of artificial intelligence adoption, increased automation and transformation of business processes.

6. The world’s oldest cryptocurrency exchange prefers doing business in Luxembourg

A new industry has sprung up around cryptocurrency over the past 12 years. The growing ecosystem includes cryptocurrency exchanges, which function much like stock market exchanges. People buy or sell assets on a website, and the exchange never owns the asset – it just serves as an intermediary between buyers and sellers.

Bitstamp is the world’s oldest crypto exchange, offering crypto access to more than four million clients in the world, mostly retail, but also providing access to 5,000 institutional clients – including banks, payment service providers, traders and family offices.

7. Dutch lawyers raise human rights concerns over hacked cryptophone data

Dutch lawyers have written an open letter claiming that defendants charged on the grounds of evidence from police cryptophone hacking investigations face unfair trials because prosecutors have refused to disclose information about the hacking operations in court.

More than 100 Dutch defence lawyers have signed the letter calling for the Netherlands Ministry of Justice and the public prosecution service to be transparent over the involvement of Dutch cyber specialists in international operations to hack encrypted phone networks, such as EncroChat and Sky ECC, used by criminal gangs.

8. Dutch government finally allowed to use public cloud

The public cloud market has seen huge developments over the past decade, with the Covid pandemic being an important accelerator. Cloud services have become more reliable, and are currently used by large numbers of citizens and businesses.

The security of public cloud services has increased, and the large-scale deployment of updates and patches makes it far easier than before to fix errors in software. For these reasons, it was due time to revise the National Cloud Policy 2011.

9. Dutch schools struggle with digitisation

The Netherlands’ educational institutions have a high degree of autonomy. This brings a lot of freedom, but it also means schools often face challenges on their own. However, when it comes to digitisation, schools are pressed to act much more collectively.  

Bart Karstens is a researcher at the country’s Rathenau Institute, which studies the impact of science and technology on Dutch society. He said: “Digitisation of education has been going on for years, but a clear picture of what exactly is happening in education in terms of digitisation was still lacking.”

10. University of Amsterdam teams up with MIT to use analytics for a better world

The Amsterdam Business School at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US have joined forces with technology company Ortec to establish the Analytics for a Better World Institute (ABW), which aims to use data and analytics to help achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

The realisation that data analytics can and should be used more broadly came to ABW co-founder Dick den Hertog, professor of operations research at UvA, after reading two books, Excellence without a soul by Harry R Lewis and Weapons of math destruction by Cathy O’Neil.

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