Assessing security research (ASSERT)

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There are numerous declarations on the importance of considering societal impacts of EU security research. The development of effective tools and mechanisms to assess the social implications of security research activities is in its infancy. Societal impacts are typically perceived as side effects of instrumental -technological and legal -security measures. This oversimplified view has to be overcome. Societal dimensions of security research, if taken into account from the outset of the “design process”, can increase the quality of feasible solutions. The research project ASSERT (Assessing security research - Tools and methodologies to measure societal impact) will identify “best practice” cases to assess societal impacts of science and technology in the security domain and beyond. ASSERT takes a multi- disciplinary approach: social sciences, a broad range of stakeholders, end-users, researchers, policy-makers, industry and NGOs, building a comprehensive pool of experts. Bringing together these different perspectives will create the basis for the development of a tool and roadmap for the sustainable integration of societal impacts in future EU security research.


Security research has been driven by technological concepts. Not falling prey to attack is seen as the positive societal impact and justification for expenditures on security systems. But security should be conceived of in a more comprehensive way,including strengthening of social bonds, social resilience and preventive measures using social policy tools. As opposed to a concept of security based on technological solutions, the intended societal impact itself produces the security gain.After a pilot in the last round of FP7, novel approaches are already under discussion. Under Horizon 2020, societal impact of security research is expected to be a major issue.Currently, researchers operating in a technology-centred framework often do not understand why they should take into account “societal dimensions” when designing their research plans,suspecting hindrances rather than opportunities opened up by social impact assessments and strengthening the link between developers and strengthening the link between developers and users of solutions.


Design sustainable tools and strategies which can be utilised to assess and mainstream the societal impact of EU security research, including: Analyse good practices of already existing approaches to societal impact assessment and validate their us ability in close cooperation with experts. Develop a “Masterclass” for experts and evaluators to create and strengthen awareness for societal impacts of security research. To date, there is no online tool available to assess societal impact of security research. ASSERT will develop such a tool and demonstrate the added value of considering societal impact.

Period: May 2013-August 2014