A Reflection on Recent Progress and the Future of Our Society
The IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology has a proud tradition of addressing some of the most challenging issues of the day. IEEE SSIT has served this role within IEEE due to our diversity of perspectives and breadth and depth of knowledge and insight.
As President, IEEE SSIT (2017–2018), I have enjoyed working with other committed SSIT volunteers to strengthen the visibility and impact of our Society across and beyond IEEE. Over the last two years, we have successfully secured approval of IEEE SSIT as a Standards Sponsor, established an active IEEE SSIT Standards Committee, reached out to other Societies about Conference Co-Sponsorship, established one of the most ambitious Society Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) programs. and secured approval for SSIT’s new IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society.
The IEEE SSIT Standards Committee has been very active since its establishment and is taking a leadership position in the new IEEE P7000 standards series. This provides a platform of great exposure and influence in key fields including autonomous vehicles and Artificial Intelligence.
A number of Presidents of other IEEE Societies have already agreed in principle to Technical Co-Sponsorship by SSIT of one or more of their conferences and SSIT will enjoy a financial interest in the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) from 2019. These relationships provide an important opportunity to build strategic relationships across IEEE and demonstrate a value proposition which in the future should lead both to strengthening and diversifying SSIT’s existing revenue streams.
The IEEE SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT has focused on a digital literacy capacity to strengthen primary healthcare delivery in resource constrained environments, and established trust relationships with Ministries of Health and local universities in Northern Ethiopia, Western Kenya, Southern Malawi, and Eastern Cape, South Africa. Based on progress to date, the Bungoma County Ministry of Health, Kenya, is providing access to over 20 new clinics that they have equipped, and we are in similar discussions with the Amhara Health Bureau in Ethiopia. The credibility SSIT volunteer activities have established in the global sustainable development space provides an important opportunity to receive recognition for supporting global engagement by IEEE in this space, scale SSIT activities, and build long-term strategic relationships beyond IEEE.
The IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society will publish its first issue in 2020 and will provide an important global platform for research across all IEEE disciplines related to societal implications of technology and ethical, professional, and social responsibility in the practice of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Equally important, it will facilitate engagement with prospective SSIT members both across and beyond IEEE.
Call for Volunteers and Resources
During my term as President, I have placed a high priority on recognizing the contributions of existing volunteers, identifying opportunities to strengthen the capacity of volunteers, and providing SSIT members with the opportunity to build a track record and relevant expertise that warrants the opportunity to contribute at a Committee and Board of Governors level.
It is apparent that we need the flexibility, complementarity, and capacity of volunteer teams sharing functional responsibility for specific society activities. This approach has already been successfully adopted in the case of thematic committees and our standards committee and is implicit in the successful operation of society chapters and the SSIT IST-Africa SIGHT. I believe it is equally important to adopt a team-based approach for all key functional areas, including Board of Governor members, who will support committee chairs and serve as BoG Liaisons.
I believe IEEE SSIT has an enormous contribution to make in strengthening the capacity of IEEE members, staff, and OUs in three of four priority areas for social impact showcased by IEEE: Global Public Policy; Global Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Efforts; and Ethics in Technology. This relies on managing controllable costs and supporting volunteers by reinvesting resources to other areas supporting membership engagement and revenue growth.
Greater involvement of talented, enthusiastic volunteers taking responsibility for content reviewing and editorial related activities across our conference and publications portfolio is particularly important as we plan to both scale these activities and grow profitability.
If any of these opportunities are of potential interest or if you would like to recommend someone, please contact me (Subject: Volunteer for IEEE SSIT – <name>) and I will direct you to the responsible team. Please also consider a donation: https://ieeefoundation.org/ieee_ssit.
Thanks and Welcome
I would like to thank all SSIT volunteers who have contributed to the success of our Society during 2017 and 2018, including those who serve or served at Chapter, Committee, or Board of Governors level, and the current and past Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
Following the recent SSIT election, Bob Dent will serve as IEEE SSIT President from 2019 – 2020. I know you will provide him with the level of support I enjoyed during my two years of service. Please join me in congratulating Bob and wishing him a very productive (and enjoyable) term of office. I look forward to supporting him next year as IEEE SSIT Past President.
SSIT launches a new publication:
IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society
to complement its award-winning T&S Magazine
The first issue of the Transactions is the first quarter of 2020
and Katina Michael is its Editor-in-Chief.
Look for it!!