Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 4 - SOURCE (SOURCE - Virtual centre of excellence for research support and coordination on societal security)

Project Context and Objectives:
The point of departure of the SOURCE project is an easily observable paradox: security is widely regarded as a universal need and even a general right, and yet citizen and stakeholder perceptions of security, security research and development, security policy formation and security practice are fragmented. European officials, national governments, international organisations, local and regional officials, and individuals continue to be in disagreement, if not disarray, about how to understand, communicate and above all address the new insecurities that confront modern societies.
The aim of the SOURCE Network of Excellence is to address this fragmentation by bringing together those actors concerned with societal dimensions of security research, development and operationalization, and forming a network capable of building understanding and coordination between them.
The approach to reaching this goal is to develop tools and methods for bringing together the different actors implicated in security research, integrating their diverse perspectives, premises, needs, expectations, experiences and concrete challenges. SOURCE seeks to develop and implement systems, tools and resources of information-gathering and dissemination in order to provide a common basis for understanding and closer collaboration of the range of societal security actors working on security in Europe today. The ultimate aim of SOURCE is to set up the institutions and infrastructure necessary to assure a lasting and sustainable network in the form of a Virtual Centre of Excellence. It is toward this aim that the diverse activities of the project seek to converge.
The SOURCE Network of Excellence is based on 5 types of activities:
Network-building (WP2) is the core activity of the SOURCE network with the aim of finding a common ground and shared standards of communication and knowledge sharing between 5 highly diverse sectors— the scholarly research sector, the industrial sector, law-makers and policy makers, civil society, and end-users—each of which has an essential and unique contribution to make to the security of European society. The network-building activities have as their primary aim to test strategies for bringing these sectors together, establishing avenues of communication and understanding, of what each and the other does, how they work, and the values they advance.
Education and training activities (WP7) address these same 5 sectors by developing educational and training materials in order to strengthen the common ground between the sectors. These include a PhD course for students seeking academic careers in security research, training modules for engineers and designers, course material for policy makers and a handbook and video for first responders and the police and security agencies.
Joint research activities (WP3-6) aim at gathering and collating state-of-the-art knowledge on societal security as a basis for guiding the priorities of the network and assuring the relevance of its activities. The research WPs cover 4 different topics: perceptions on societal security (WP3), practices of security professionals (WP4), relation between societal security and financial security (WP5) and the ethical and legal frameworks and implications of societal security (WP6).
Documentation activities (WP8) are centred around an online information hub, based on the SOURCE webpage. Based on the result of the other WPs, the hub continuously gathers four types of raw information which feeds into the development of a web cartography of the online debate on societal security: results of scientific research, bibliographical indexing, media data and general web data.
Dissemination activities (WP9) transmit the results of the project are transmitted to both relevant stakeholders and the public at large. These consist primarily of a dedicated website, newsletters and briefs, policy seminars, international conferences, a journal, films and scenarios and a visualisation tool.

Project Results:
Main results achieved
SOURCE activities have converged, with the various tools and resources being developed in order to reach the ultimate aim of the SOURCE, namely the creation of a coherent, useful and inviting Virtual Centre of Excellence which was formally achieved by the end of the 4th period. A common vocabulary emerged and common set of concepts are increasingly being taken up, applied and developed in unison. In addition, the many SOURCE seminar, conference and meeting activities continue to contribute to spreading information about the network and raising interest in it. Both an empirically-based understanding of societal security in Europe and a principled, ethical and theoretical understanding is evolving. The more these strands of research coalesce the more there will be underlying unity of security needs, interests, perspectives and capacities will emerge.
Specific project progress in the 4th project period
The main progress achieved in terms of network-building centred around the task of creating a sustainable Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE) and the further development of the SOURCE Community Platform (SCP). The by-laws for the VCE/Global Alliance for Societal Security were presented by the end of the 4th period (D2.9) and the VCE is expected to be operational through the SCP by the beginning of the 5th period. The web-based knowledge sharing platform (D2.8) was developed as well and is to be technically implemented in the SCP. Integrative Topic Working Groups relating to the work carried out in several WPs and involving several SOURCE partners as well as reaching out to Primary Network members, were established.
Work in the area of education and training activities has progressed along 3 main lines. A second version of the PhD course on technology, security and society was prepared. The online course ‘Societal Security for engineers and designers’ has been running for the entire year, open for students and testing. A course on societal security for policy-makers is under development, and the contents of the conference held in Brussels in 2016 was transformed in an online course. Lastly, the handbook on societal security for first responders has been further developed.
Results of the SOURCE research components have been fruitful. The Societal Security Survey (WP3) continued to function as the backbone for empirical data on citizens’ view on societal security. The data collected was also used to generate concrete comparative case studies of European heterodox political groups. The study of archives of 30 years of Schengen, and of the documentation of the origins of the concept of societal security and how the concept has developed, was continued in WP4. Work progressed on the enriching and detailing of the exercise of mapping networks of security professionals in European research. Research on ethics and law (WP6) converged toward the publication of a report on the ethics of countering violent extremism.
Documentation activities have carried on continuously through the reporting period, taking the form, among other things, of added technology and legal ‘cards’ to the archive. Updates have been undertaken to the otherwise fully automated Media Watch tool. The knowledge database has been continuously updated and improved.
Dissemination (WP9) in the SOURCE project is many faceted and takes many forms. Five quarterly Societal Security Reports were published. Dissemination to policy makers continued through a series of policy seminars and policy briefs targeting policy stakeholders. The SOURCE Societal Security Symposium addressed this year the topic of “Global threats, local actors”. Several graphic visualisations of research results were finalized, aiming to make research results more understandable. Finally, the design of the SOURCE webpage has been renewed.
Potential Impact:
The central expected result among many secondary results is increasingly coming into view as the project progresses into its 5th year: the setting up of the planned Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE). In terms of infrastructure the VCE will consist of web platform featuring information and networking services, and a community communication and interaction tool. In terms of organisation, the VCE will consist of an operating network of academics, experts, officials, policy-makers, and operational actors linked together through a shared dialogue how best to assure societal security in Europe.
To the degree that the Virtual Centre of Excellence achieves critical mass, its potential impact is considerable. It will be to provide a range of different stakeholders with shared knowledge and standardised tools, giving strength, solidarity and legitimacy to the aim of putting security at the centre of societal matters and bringing societal concerns to the complex food-chain of security provision in Europe.
List of Websites:

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