Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Societal impact assessment for security research.

We've had a new article published today in the journal Science and Public Policy. The title of the paper is State of the art in societal impact assessment for security research, and you can have a look at it here.

If you need access past the paywall, get in touch and I can help you out. That being said, you might also want to check out the societal impact assessment toolkit we put together for the ASSERT project, which has much of the content of the paper (in various places), and some other resources.

The ASSERT project started from a fairly straightforward principle. There is a lot of security research of various types being conducted in the European Union, including with funding from the EU itself. Security research is seen as a way of driving the EU economies and a particular areas of expertise. Now, security research can have some negative impacts for society (and that's what a lot of surveillance studies is often about, as well as the border security politics in International Relations). Given that potential, its arguably important for researchers engaged in security research to pay attention to these impacts and potential impacts, and try to mitigate them. There have been existing efforts in these directions, and EU research proposals under Horizon 2020 have to make statements about their societal impact. The ASSERT project was intended to examine various methods of social impact assessment, and bring these together into a set of best practices, guidance, tools, and advice for the policy process.

The paper that has just been published is a summary of what we think is a strong methodology for including a meaningful societal impact assessment exercise into a security research project. It's primarily for an EU context, but the general methodology should have wider applicability.