Designing Security Futures

Closing remarks – Designing Security Futures conference
24 November 2021, Brussels

Hello everyone. My name is Anno Bunnik, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. I am stepping in for my colleague Dr Oskar Gstrein who unfortunately couldn’t be here today.

Together with Oskar and Prof Andrej Zwitter we have sought to assist law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to consider the Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects when developing their toolkits: the ELSA approach.

Perhaps we could argue that human centred design, as pioneered by Caroline and Andrew, has taken Eric von Hippel’s lead user innovation to the next level. And we are very excited that we could contribute to this process.

As such, the University of Groningen took on a strong role in the early days of the CCI project. We published reports and factsheets for the four domains seeking to inform the innovations being developed. This is perhaps a starting point for LEAs but that does not mean that *ethics* ends there. We also took on the role of “critical friends” during the design process – a very enjoyable role I might add.

In this approach we uncovered very detailed ethical, legal and social issues specific to a policing domain. However, there is a common denominator among all domains. How far does the state go in nudging the behaviour of citizens and communities to ensure security? And what does that mean for trust and legitimacy?

I would argue that this moves beyond policing and law enforcement and deals with governance and governmentality in a broad sense. This also means that we would do well to regularly revisit if task A or B is indeed best carried out by a law enforcement agency, or could perhaps be mandated to other agencies. I am not saying “defund the police”, but these protesters have a point: innovation should critically interrogate the role and responsibilities of all actors involved. Who does what and why?

Furthermore, these questions on trust and legitimacy are relevant across all policing domains. We would do well to move beyond state vs. society or state vs. the citizen, but instead dive deeper and take into account groups and communities with differing perceptions of state agencies and differing safety needs.

My personal desire is that future security innovations take these questions into account, especially as Big Data, AI and automated decision-making risks leaving less room for human agency and human autonomy.

My personal desire is that future security innovations take these questions into account, especially as Big Data, AI and automated decision-making risks leaving less room for human agency and human autonomy.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to dive into all the wonderful presentations and the workshop that we have visited today. However, it is clear that we are seeing real world solutions being created for specific regional contexts. It has been a real pleasure that we have been able to take a peek behind the scene at 6 LEAs, and witnessed the development from problem analysis at the start all the way to where we are now.

Each project presented here today has ingredients that can be scaled up to other regions – either national or at a European level. I have no doubts about that. But I would take it even further. It is perhaps not only a question of scaling up pilot projects to a national or European level. As a consortium, all twelve partners present in this room have contributed to a model for sustainable innovation. I am sure I speak off all partners when I say that I hope that others build on this approach to tackle new security and governance issues.

As Andrea de Candido said this morning, CCI has been somewhat of a precursor for developments in Horizon Europe and we are currently witnessing a cultural shift around innovation in Europe. As such, the EU’s human centredness is positioning itself as a third way – clearly different from how innovation is approached in China and the US – where respectively the state and businesses are in the driver seat.

This might be part of what is distinct about European Security that we discussed just now in the workshop.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

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