Research projects and research overview report
Recently concluded projects
Research overview report
The Professorship for Security Research at Sigmund Freud University Vienna, held by Alexander Siedschlag and operational since June 2009, has worked in national security research (Austrian security research programme “KIRAS”) and in Security Research projects in the 7th EU Framework Programme, including coordination of the FOCUS project (“Foresight Security Scenarios: Mapping Research to a Comprehensive Approach to Exogenous EU Roles”) with twelve partners from eight countries.
Work has mainly comprised studies, empirical analyses, requirements for security technology development, curriculum development, and contributions to coordination and structuring of security research, including its further long-term planning. One of the leading ideas of our work and achievements is to contribute to establishing non-technological security research – rooted in the added value of Sigmund Freud University as a humanities-based university – as a full-fledged field of research and academic discipline, beyond a mere contributor or social problem solver for security technology development. This vision notwithstanding, we have also made substantial contributions to European security research projects centred on technology development. This includes project-related checklists as well as general conclusions for social requirements of security-enhancing technologies, in the context of the rising concept of societal security. Examples include citizens’ security cultures as well as social, cultural and ethics aspects of risk assessment and management tools in resilience-enhancing urban planning.
At European level, work centres on multiple research-based contributions to designing future European security research (in the 2035 time frame) to effectively cope with future EU roles responding to tomorrow's challenges resulting from the globalization of risks, threats and vulnerabilities. This is done in the FOCUS project, through elaboration of multiple scenarios based on IT-supported foresight in the form of alternative futures that are plausibility-probed and not just threat scenarios. FOCUS uses an "embedded scenario" method, delineating options for future tracks and broadened concepts of security research within context scenarios for EU roles to respond to transversal challenges (whose causes are exogenous, but whose consequences will be experienced within the EU). This is performed along the following five themes:
FOCUS will deliver:
Another seminal contribution of out team to European security research was the comparative cross-national addressing of cultural aspects in citizens’ perception of (in)security and interventions, based on secondary analysis of pertinent surveys and other data. We conducted a cultural analysis, which looked at security culture across EU countries and how culture guides security and threat perception. The work comprised a differential analysis of European security culture: It identified groups of European Union Member States and their societies that share similarities in terms of security culture, for example in the relationship between human/citizen security and national/state security. This was a contribution to the FP7 project CPSI (“Changing Perceptions on Security and Interventions”). The goal of the project was to provide governments and related organizations with a methodology to increase insight into the determinants of actual and perceived security, and into which interventions are effective for increasing security. The deliverables of this project represent practical and ready-to-use tools, which can be employed by policy makers and other end-users to formulate policy regarding security.
Further highlights in our security research activities include provision of research-based studies and implementation of their main results in “Securipedia,” a wiki-based development in the FP7 project VITRUV (“Vulnerability Identification Tools for Resilience Enhancements of Urban Environments“). The vulnerability of urban environments remains an underdeveloped theme. The issue of security and citizen safety is of paramount importance and a growing concern with half of the world's population currently living in urban centres and with this figure set to increase to two-thirds by 2050. In order to effectively face these challenges, urban planning teams need tools that fully encompass the pre-application process with developers/designers and that facilitate flexible solutions to potential security issues, rather than impose measures. These tools would ideally offer integrated and comprehensive support throughout all levels of the planning process. The objective of VITRUV is the development of these tools to support urban planners to consistently integrate security issues into the considerations made in the long and complex process which makes up urban planning.
We are contributing to VITRUV tools that will enable planners to make well-considered systematic qualitative analyses with decision support (at the concept level). This includes expertise on ethics and legal issues, aspects of security culture related to infrastructure, and social functions. Numerous own content has been developed as well as thematic aspects added to the description of other functions. Work was based on a desktop study, take-up of results from related projects, and consultations with external experts. Our contributions help to follow a state of the art comprehensive approach to societal security within the VITRUV project by explicating culture, legal and ethics aspects in security aspects related to urban planning.
In the Austrian national security research programme “KIRAS,” an Austrian Centre for Comprehensive Security Research – hosted by Sigmund Freud University Vienna – was developed under the lead of SFU’s Professorship for Security Research. Work focused on interdisciplinary development of security research themes and methods, based on own research, feasibility checks and implementation strategies, contributing to knowledge related to focusing and enhancing the national security research programme KIRAS and Austrian engagement in European programmes. The Centre’s development was embedded into a thorough methodological process, reflecting the spectrum of security research. Main themes addressed included work human factors in definition and crisis management of critical infrastructure; critical infrastructure protection and societal/citizen resilience; public policy and decision analysis/support in civil security; disaster research; and catalogue of criteria for good security research, including contributions to the development of a syllabus of security research methodology. Work further included substantial contributions to an awareness-raising comprehensive discussion of threats and challenges to current and emerging challenges to the security of the European Union, its Member States and its citizens.
We have also been active in scientific community and end-user services, for example by compiling and contributing to publications, organizing several national and international symposia and workshops as well as setting up experts networks on the internet/in new social media. Results have been published in a number of publications and papers.
(european-security.info – 04-03-2013)