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European Dependability Initiative


In the Information Society , an increasing range of industries, users and society at large have a growing dependence upon software-based control systems, communication systems applications and services. The key characteristics of these systems are their complexity, large-scale distribution, inclusion of legacy and Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) components, mobility and flexibility. The systems cover safety-, mission-, and security- as well as business-critical systems and a broad range of emerging applications areas such as embedded systems in consumer goods, health support, personal communications, electronic commerce and transport. The novelty of the applications, the extensively deployed nature of new technologies and their common characteristics give rise to new types of problems and challenges to dependability technologies.

A number of research programmes have been instigated (predominantly in the USA), which seek to meet the research goals posed by the quest for €˜survivability€™ or €˜critical infrastructure protection€™. The USA has established a significant information survivability research programme , led by DARPA. A second programme has been announced recently by the US Government as a result of the report submitted to the White House on €˜Critical Infrastructure protection€™ . These programmes are relevant and important, also for the European research in this field, because they underline the global scope of the Information infrastructure and its dependability concerns.

Within the forthcoming Information Society Technologies (IST) Programme dependability will be one of the main research drives both in processes and products. In the following sections, the first attempt to define a vision for a Dependability Initiative as well as the illustration of the process by which this initiative is being shaped are reported.


The envisioned role of the Dependability Initiative within the Information Society Programme, is to contribute towards raising and assuring trust and confidence in systems and services, by promoting dependability enabling technologies . This is to be attained by: i) fostering the development of new dependability technologies, and ii) the better use of available dependability technologies. These goals comprise:


Following an invitation by the European Commission, 50 organisations representing industry, academia and public authorities were consulted to discuss and shape a European Dependability Initiative within the forthcoming IST Programme . In order to accomplish this task, four workshops were organised between December '97 and March '98 in collaboration and with the support of the Institute for Systems, Informatics and Safety if the Joint Research Centre . The aim was to elicit and discuss:

The four workshops included in the preparation process were:

The need for future discussions and consultations aiming at refining and properly aligning the objectives, scope and modality of the dependability initiative with the increasingly faster development of technologies and markets is already envisaged.

Should you be willing to contribute to this process, please (E-mail removed) your comments, suggestions or recommendations.


To foster a dependability-aware culture in developing, managing and operating the whole life-cycle of technical and business components, systems, networks and infrastructures, by:

Basic research on dependability technical challenges would benefit from a European co-ordinated approach that would start from and leverage on the specific application contexts in which these challenges are to be met. These challenges would include:

Applied research and piloting shall take into account industrial needs and develop workable and cost-effective solutions by:

International collaboration would be promoted in specific areas (e.g. survivability of information and services infrastructures, or disaster recovery policy, etc.) where joint R&D is required, and where objectives should be jointly pursued. Furthermore, the co-operation and discussion on international standards and practices on issues that stretch beyond national and European boundaries would be pursued.

Best practice would be promoted, in areas such as risk management, in all germane industrial/service domains. R&D results and resources are promoted within relevant fields, taking advantage of Europe€™s strong research strengths in the Dependability area in academia as well as in industry.

Should you want to comment to this proposal, please (E-mail removed) your suggestions and recommendations.


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