Discoveries in Safety Grants
December 11, 2023

Independent Digital Risk Assessment

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Program Overview

Digital Safety Research Institute (DSRI) is looking for research partners, with expertise in an area of digital safety (e.g., cybersecurity, privacy, human autonomy, and information integrity) to work with us and others to create programmatic means to create full-stack digital safety labels for the public and detailed digital safety reports for the provider.

Award Information

Type of Award: Competitive grant 
Number of Awards Given: Up to 2   
Funding Amount: Up to $200,000 a year 
Duration of Award: 1 year, with a DSRI-option to extend funding

Key Dates  

Feb. 16, 2024 (by 11:59 p.m. EST): Letter of intent submission due (required)
May 10, 2024 (by 11:59 p.m. EST): Full proposal deadline

Key Resources 

Full Notice of Funding Opportunity
Program Terms and Conditions (updated April 1st, 2024)
Application Submission Instructions

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Digital Safety Research Institute (DSRI) of UL Research Institutes aims to explore public safety at the human-digital Interface. While the digital ecosystem enables much of modern life, (e.g., our information, communication, medical, financial, and governmental systems), it also poses safety risks to individuals and the public (e.g., security, privacy, autonomy, and information integrity).

DSRl's research comprises the following areas:

  • Safety Education: DSRI will provide the continuous education and tools needed to empower the public to better protect themselves and demand safer systems.
  • Safety Testing: DSRI will prototype advanced independent, dynamic, testing tools to provide the public with up-to-date safety labels for digital systems.
  • Safer Designs: DSRI will prototype safer tech stacks and tools needed to seed the next-generation safer digital ecosystem.

DSRI is dedicated to making its digital safety discoveries available in the academic literature and its prototypes, data, and Al models, as part of ULRl's dedication to open science.

Grant Purpose  

For this research grant, the Digital Safety Research Institute (DSRI) is seeking partners to help develop measures of an individuals' safety (e.g., their cybersecurity, privacy, autonomy, and information integrity when using a consumer or business app). Public safety measures will be provided as a public safety label, like a nutrition label for food or a warning label for drugs, to help consumers weigh the benefits and risks of a specific digital system or app.

Governments are now requesting that digital systems/services be labeled for public safety. Current safety labeling practices (e.g., posting of privacy policies on web sites, creating simplified terms-of-service) are ineffective at protecting consumers, and privacy labeling of apps in the Apple Store and in Google Play often have little effect on consumer behavior.

DSRI is looking for researchers, with deep expertise in various aspects of digital system safety, and who are interested in contributing to public digital safety labeling in their area of expertise. Digital safety includes, but is not limited to, cybersecurity, data privacy, algorithmic trustworthiness, deep fakes, and information integrity.

DSRI will provide its open-source evaluation platform for researchers to perform their measurement studies on digital systems and to save their evaluation results. DSRI will utilize our community outreach to provide user reviews various safety label measures. Researchers will be required to deliver to DSRI, through the evaluation platform: 1) test code to comprehensively measure digital threats, and 2) data sets required for evaluating those measures. Researchers can use these results to publish their findings.

Researchers will be required to work in an agile research process with the collaboration and support of DSRI staff and fellow grantees iteratively collaborating to share methodology across evaluations. Therefore, researchers must attend a bi-weekly retrospective meeting, where they will review progress of the research sprint and determine priorities for the next sprint efforts.

Eligibility Information  

Who Should Submit Proposals:  
All proposals should be submitted by an accredited college, university, government, or non-government organization (including not-for-profit and for-profit institutions) with recognized legal status in their respective country.  

At ULRI, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are critical to who we are and what we represent as a leading safety science organization. We believe that our inclusivity fuels brilliance in innovation, creative problem-solving, and, ultimately, excellence in safety science discovery. Learn more about ULRI’s commitment to DEI.

ULRI encourages proposals from, or collaborations with, diverse research teams, including minority-serving institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other institutions with a predominantly underrepresented student population.  

Who May Serve as PI:  
The Principal Investigator (PI) must be an individual of the organization holding a full-time administrative or faculty role. The PI should continue in this role for the duration of the three years of the award. Multiple PIs can be added during this time.  

The PI must NOT be:  

  • From a country under U.S. export control or sanctions; 
  • A previous employee of UL Solutions, ULRI, or UL Standards & Engagement (ULSE) within 12 months prior to submitting a Letter of Intent for this program. 

Apply Now on ProposalCentral