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Social innovations as enablers of security solutions and increased security perception


Citizens and local communities are insufficiently involved in the co-creation of socially innovative processes to develop security solutions and thus conceptions of what citizens and local communities know and think about security could be predominantly shaped by media coverage. This might result in bias in the assessment of the seriousness and probability of different security threats. Nevertheless, social acceptance of security technology depends on understanding citizens’ awareness of security problems and threats. Comprehensive discussion that involves citizens from all parts of society directly in co-design such as through Responsible Research and Innovation and social innovation, alongside other security technology actors, would integrate public concerns beyond incident-based interpretations of security threats, thereby increasing social acceptance of security technology and subjective feelings and perceptions of personal security in daily life. At the same time, industry would be in a position to identify new business opportunities in producing and delivering security products and services, which are in line with needs, values and expectations of citizens and local communities and support their well-being.

Social innovations[[“Social innovation can be defined as innovations that are social both as to their means and in particular those which relate to the development and implementation of new ideas (concerning products, services and models), that simultaneously meet social needs and create new social collaborations, thereby benefiting society and boosting its capacity to act""; European Commission Bureau of European Policy Advisors, BEPA, 2011, p. 9

The co-legislators adopted the BEPA definition two years later in Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (""EaSI"") and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion, Article 2, paragraph 5.]] for increasing security and security perception can be manifold and the scope of application of social innovation is potentially wide-ranging and can address diverse aspects. For example, apps that help citizens to prevent, detect and respond with first responders in disaster and crisis situation and to access real-time information about adequate responses; the formation of networks of parents of children who are considered susceptible to extreme ideologies to establish early warning and early-intervention mechanisms. What these examples have in common is that they give citizens an active role in co-creation and produce a practical use value.

Giving more emphasis on a co-creation procedure from the design phase could also overcome the corresponding lack of knowledge about how socially innovative solutions can contribute to increased security and security perception. Although citizens and local communities can successfully support as co-designers and beneficiaries to replicate and upscale best practices as well as systemic and cross-sectorial solutions that combine technological, digital, social and nature-based innovation, existing knowledge of such contributions is limited. Therefore, proposals should develop a societal development plan that builds upon a people-centred approach and examines how social innovations on security are organised, how they work, how and why they are adopted or rejected, their direct and indirect benefits and costs, including in vulnerability assessments, how they sustain, and which interfaces with other more formal security agents are established.

Proposals should map and analyse a social innovation in one or more distinct social spheres, in areas such as:

(a) Security disturbance at large (pop-) cultural and sports events;

(b) Security and security behaviour in public places, public transport or mobility;

(c) Radicalisation, dis-integration in local communities and social media;

(d) Digital identity, data portability and data minimisation with an attribute based society in control;

(e) Safety and security in remote communication, command and control of operation in risk scenarios;

(f) Mobilisation on human trafficking;

(g) Automatic detections’ use.

Proposals should consider the social relevance of research, social marketing, transferability and scaling of such social innovations as this is an area where there is limited research and experimentation, which could help to spread the use of such solutions. They should also consider education, training and change individual behavioural and social practices by involving citizens and local communities as generators, validators and end-users of the new horizontal/advanced technologies.

Proposals which have developed innovative ideas on societal resilience under the Destination Disaster-Resilient Society and which can transform them into social innovations for disaster crisis situations engaging citizens and local communities are not pre-empted to participate in this topic.

Consortia should give meaningful roles to all research and innovation actors, including security practitioners, system developers, the public sector, technology development organisations, civil society organisations[[A civil society organisation can be defined: “any legal entity that is non-governmental, non-profit, not representing commercial interests and pursuing a common purpose in the public interest”.; Check also the study “Network Analysis of Civil Society Organisations’ participation in the EU Framework Programmes”, December 2016.]], communication specialists on security research, researchers and Social Sciences and Humanities Experts from a variety of EU Member States and Associated Countries. In order to ensure a meaningful democratic oversight of the EU’s security research programme, projects and policies at national and European level, proposals should establish a multidisciplinary approach and have the appropriate balance of industry, representatives of citizens and local communities and social sciences and humanities experts.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.

As indicated in the introduction of this call, project proposals should foresee resources for clustering activities with other successful proposals in the same or other calls, to find synergies, and identify best practices, and to develop close working relationships with other Programmes (e.g. the Civil Society Empowerment Programme (CSEP-ISF), Science with and for Society (SwafS), the Digital Europe Programme).

The project should have a maximum estimated duration of 4 years.