In less than 2 years the world will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of the cataclysmic events that brought what many historians are now referring to as the ‘Long Nineties’ (1989-2001) to a screeching end. The 9/11 attacks radically shifted the course of world political history, spearheaded by the launch of the US-led ‘War on Terror’. Indeed, the felling of the twin towers of the World Trade Center resulted in some of the most horrific, tragic and yet instantly recognisable images that characterise the dawn of the 21st century.
Innovative solutions to keep us all safe
In short, everyone old enough to remember can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard of the terrifying news coming out of the United States on that cold, crisp and clear autumn day.
Europe has of course suffered its fair share of terrorist atrocities both before and since 9/11. This special feature is being published in the November 2019 issue, marking the 4th anniversary of the series of coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 138 people and left 413 injured, some critically. Other recent European attacks include the Norway attacks of 2011, the Brussels bombings and Berlin Christmas Market attacks in 2016, and the Manchester arena bombing and Barcelona attacks in 2017.
So, in a dangerous and polarised world, security remains at the top of the political priority list. In fact, ensuring safety and security for European citizens is an EU obligation under the Treaties. It’s also a common responsibility – in our interconnected and digital world, no one country can enact a 100 % successful security policy without cooperation and collaboration with other countries.
To facilitate this cooperation and collaboration, innovative and world-beating research and technological development is absolutely essential and much of this research, as can be expected, focuses on developing online and digital methods and/or tools to combat terrorism. Over the past 15 years, terrorists of all political persuasions are increasingly using the internet as a means to coordinate their plans, recruit members and spread their ideology.
A majority of EU Member States actually depend on the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to fund their needs for innovative security solutions, with the programme representing 50 % of the overall public funding for security research in the EU. Whilst new tech solutions are only a part of the puzzle in effectively tackling terrorism (alongside equally important social sciences research to help us better understand the socio-economic conditions that feed and promote terrorism as an ideology), they are still an undeniably crucial part of that puzzle.
In this special feature, we meet seven EU-funded projects that have contributed to the development of new technologies that can effectively take on terrorism and help to make all of us safer and more secure as we go about our daily lives.
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